By: Cody Wilcox
On paper, No. 1 Penn State’s offense was ranked as the nation’s best with an average of 18.38 goals per game, and equipped with two players that led the nation in assists per game and goals per game.
No. 3 Maryland witnessed this potent offense first hand as the Nittany Lions scored eight goals from five different scorers in the opening quarter to jump ahead to an early lead that the Terps were unable to erase in a 13-10 loss to Penn State.
“We were really going to try to focus on that first quarter. But you turn on the film and they did the same thing to Stony Brook; they did the same thing to Cornell; they did the same thing to Jacksonville,” head coach John Tillman said. “They really come at you hard.”
Entering into their Big Ten opener, Penn State had outscored their opponents 49-19 in the first quarter, and once again showed that early offensive ability.
Penn State (8-1) got their first win over Maryland (8-2) in program history since the series began in 1924. The Terps record against the Nittany Lions now falls to 36-1.
Following a season-low three first-half goals, Maryland’s offense quickly woke up in the second half as the Terps used the halftime break to regroup and score four unanswered goals to extend their scoring run that began late in the second quarter to 6-0.
Two of the goals in that scoring run came from midfielder Roman Puglise, who is used mainly as a short-stick defender for the Terps. His two-goal outing was a career high for the sophomore.
Puglise’s second goal came from Logan Wisnauskas on his only assist of the day and cut the Penn State deficit to one goal with 8:27 remaining. The Terps’ attack responded with three-straight turnovers, which seemed to subdue their momentum in the third quarter.
“In a game like this, where your not winning as many faceoffs as you’d like – I think we were 3-of-14 in the second half – those possessions just become so much bigger,” Tillman said. “There were some opportunities, and we just didn’t can them.”
Penn State dominated the Terps at the faceoff X on the evening, an area where the Terps usually find success. Aftering winning four faceoffs in the first quarter, Justin Shockey, Austin Henningsen and Wesley Janeck finished with a total of eight through the final three quarters. Penn State junior Gerard Arceri won 69 percent of the faceoffs, going 18-of-26 against Maryland.
“I thought [Arceri], our faceoff guy, just got better as the game went on,” Tambroni said. “We needed some extra possessions tonight. And down the stretch, I think that’s when it was really evident in the last two or three possessions when we just needed the ball, or it was going to help us shave some time off the clock; [Arceri] was huge.”
After giving up eight goals in the first quarter, Penn State was held scoreless in the second as the Terps forced them into four turnovers. The Nittany Lions were also missing their best playmaker Grant Ament for some time after he was shaken up on a hit.
Ament, who was questionable with what head coach Jeff Tambroni called a “lower body injury,” appeared to limp off of the field to the trainers table where his right foot was wrapped. The redshirt junior would reappear late in the second quarter and finished the game with two assists.
The Nittany Lions were led by sophomore Jack Kelly with his fifth hat-trick of the season to go along with a single assist. Nick Spillane and Mac O’Keefe also contributed two goals each.
Maryland’s Jared Bernhardt led the team in the scoring category with his three goals to add to his two assists on the day. But, Bernhardt, much like most of the other Terps on offense struggled early to find a rhythm, while Penn State’s offense was off and running from the beginning whistle. Ultimately putting Maryland in a rough position against the nation’s leading offense.
“Obviously disappointed in how we came out as a defensive unit especially on that end,” Puglise said. “Give credit to Penn State – I mean No. 1 scoring offense in the country and they showed it. They showed it fast and often in that first quarter.
“…Tell you what, next week, I’m sure you will see a different effort,” Puglise said.