In its first game action in 351 days, Maryland fell to Penn State in a back-and-forth battle. The Terps found themselves down four goals at halftime but were able to come back and make it a tie game late in the second half before the Nittany Lions pulled away.
“It was really nice to get out there again,” sophomore attacker Libby May said. “I was thinking about getting back on the field every day during the lockdown.”
Senior midfielder Grace Griffin got on the board first with a goal less than five minutes into the game, but Penn State quickly answered, taking a 2-1 lead. The game was tied at 4-4 when Penn State called a timeout at 11:33. The Nittany Lions dominated play for the rest of the half, scoring four goals and taking an 8-4 lead into the half.
“We were kinda caught back on our heels a bit,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “Penn State went hard and ran through our defense to get some easy looks.”
Maryland got out to a hot start in the second half, scoring three goals in a row to make it 8-7. Attackers Brindi Griffin and Hannah Leubecker along with midfielder Shaylan Ahearn all scored on free position shots, something that plagued Penn State throughout the game.
“We had good energy going into the second half,” senior attacker Catie May said.
Penn State was able to maintain a tight lead over Maryland for most of the second half, but then Libby May took over for the Terps. May scored three goals in just over three minutes, including two in 40 seconds to tie the game at 11.
“Libby was great today,” Reese said. “We’re going to expect a lot from her this season.”
The teams traded goals down the stretch, making it a 13-13 game with four minutes to play. The Terps were not able to contain Olivia Dirks, however, as she scored Penn State’s final three goals including the game-winner. Dirks finished with five goals on the day.
Dirks scored with two minutes left in the game and a foul on Maryland gave Penn State possession with the opportunity to run out the clock. Dirks then scored again to make it 15-13, icing the game.
Maryland showed how dangerous they can be when playing at their best, but the bottom line is they weren’t consistent enough for 60 minutes. Reese was not pleased with her team’s energy level at the beginning of the game.
“We needed to toughen up physically and mentally, we got outworked,” Reese said. “We need to be better at flipping that mental switch and playing at a different level of intensity.”
Reese was also not happy with the 16 turnovers Maryland committed or the 34% shooting percentage on the day. They were able to generate a lot of offense, but were not able to take advantage of enough opportunities.
One area where the Terps were successful was the draw. Ahearn was very impressive, controlling 9 draws in the game. Reese made it a point of emphasis that this was Ahearn’s first game being the main player on the draw. Grace Griffin was also strong on the draw.
Maryland has plenty of room for improvement which is predictable considering how long of a layoff they had. However, they also have multiple positives to build off of going into their next game.
“We all have that hunger to win,” Libby May said. “We really just have to hone in on the details.”
The Terps will return home this week for games on Friday and Sunday against No. 9 Michigan.