Second half comeback gives Nittany Lions the Big Ten title over Terps

By: Max Marcilla

For the first time all season, the first-seeded Maryland Terrapins dropped a game at home, falling to Penn State 2-1 in the Big Ten championship game in College Park.

Maryland’s pursuit for a second consecutive Big Ten title was spoiled by a second half comeback by the Nittany Lions. In the loss, the Terps dropped to 9-1 after leading at the half.

“The outcome is disappointing,” Maryland head coach Missy Meharg said. “We all know about the sting of sports and this group [has] such hard-working women. Obviously we’re disappointed in not being able to raise the trophy for the Big Ten championship here.”

The Terrapins led 1-0 at the half thanks to Emma Rissinger’s sixth goal of the season, which came off a bizarre mid-air deflection.

However, the Nittany Lions came back with a ferocious offensive attack right out of the break. The comeback began just 1:15 into the second half when Penn State junior forward Aurelia Meijer scored her 10th goal of the season off a penalty corner, evening the score at one goal.

For the first time all season, Maryland didn’t have a response.

“When you come out of halftime, it’s just like the beginning of the game,” Meharg said. “We have a mindset and you need to start in a way that dictates. We were not in that place in the opening five to 10 minutes in the second half, and that hurt us.”

Penn State capped off the comeback with a goal seven minutes later off the stick of sophomore midfielder Gini Bramley, who was named the Big Ten tournament MVP following the win.

“I know that Maryland sat back a bit and were kind of observing the situation,” said Meharg. “You can ask athletes and coaches to be very present, the score is 0-0, etc. But the reality is: the score does play a role in people’s minds.”

While the loss stings, the Terrapins season is far from done. The NCAA tournament bracket will be released at 10 p.m. Sunday night, and as the No. 3 team in the country, Maryland will certainly have something to play for.

“There’s still a lot ahead of us,” captain Welma Luus said with tears in her eyes. “Of course this hurts a lot, but we’re going to move forward and go for the NCAA tournament.”