Penn State drove the ball down the field to open up the fourth quarter in a tied game. As the Terps tried to clear the ball away, Penn State midfielder Anna Simon regained possession and struck the ball into the net to complete her hat-trick just 29 seconds into the frame.
Simon’s hat-trick was all No. 7 Penn State needed to beat No. 6 Maryland 3-2 and earn the last spot in the Semifinals.
Maryland has now lost in the Quarterfinals round for the second straight season. The Terps were slightly short handed with midfielder Kyler Greenwalt and defenders Taylor Mason and Nathalie Fiecheter inactive in the playoff matchup. The Terps were forced to use only three subs and six of their starters played the full sixty minutes.
“They had physical issues that didn’t allow them to compete,” head coach Missy Meharg said. “We have been 16 players deep, but today we were at 13. It definitely impacts your outcome.”
Each team got off to a fast start with both teams recording shots in the first five minutes.
The Terps struck first off a penalty corner. Defender Riley Donnelly sent a shot towards the right side of the net and midfielder Bibi Donraadt tipped the ball between Nittany Lions goalie Brie Barraco and another defender to take a 1-0 lead.
Penn State returned the favor and on the team’s third penalty corner, Simon sent a rocket to the left of a diving Noelle Frost to tie the game up at 1-1.
Penn State earned another penalty corner five minutes into the second quarter and the Terps defense came up with a huge stop. However, the Nittany Lions drove the ball back into the circle.
Nittany Lions midfielder Sophia Gladieux used her backhand shot but Frost saved the shot off her leg pads.
Just under seven minutes left in the second quarter, the Big Ten Freshman of the Year, forward Hope Rose sent a laser into the net off a penalty corner to reclaim the lead back to the Terps at 2-1.
Five minutes later, Simon scored her second goal of the night off a penalty corner rebound.
After both teams scored two goals apiece in the first half, both teams settled down into a defensive battle. Both sides had opportunities to score, but both defenses and goalies remained stout. Frost made one save and the Terps penalty corner defense stopped all three Nittany Lions penalty corners in the third.
Frost and Barraco each finished with four saves
The stalemate held until the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, when Simon completed her hat-trick. With a thinned out roster, Maryland failed to register a response.
Donraadt had an opportunity in the third quarter to retake the lead but pushed the shot wide.
Penn State had three opportunities in a two minute span to extend their lead but the Terps defense stepped up. Forward Bree Bennarski, earned a breakaway attempt but defender Rayne Wright came in and stopped Bendnarski from getting a shot off.
The Terps pulled Frost with 4:50 left to gain an extra field player but the Terps were unable to find an equalizer as the Nittany Lions stopped the Terps whenever they got the ball down the field.
“We will get ourselves together and see where we fall in the NCAAs,” Meharg said.
The Terps will find out their spot in the NCAA Tournament on Sunday at 10 p.m.