By Daniel Chavkin
After shutting out Villanova at home, Maryland looked to continue their success against Penn State in State College. Thanks to a George Campbell hat trick, the Terps weathered early struggles to beat Penn State 4-3.
Through the first 30 minutes of the game, Penn State was up 2-0. Maryland could not get a positive offensive play going.
“We started off very passive, very uncharacteristic of what we expect,” said head coach Sasho Cirovski.
As Maryland started playing more aggressively, they found more success. In the 33rd minute of play, senior midfielder Tsubasa Endoh buried a goal on a two-on-one to cut the lead in half. However, the big blow came with two seconds left in the first half when sophomore forward George Campbell scored off a corner kick to tie the game. Campbell knew that Penn State would be “on their toes,” and he knew they could capitalize.
“We went into halftime very confident,” said Cirovski, who also called the Campbell goal a game changer.
Campbell took this momentum and ran with it. He scored twice in a three-minute span with 32 minutes still to play in the game, and completed a hat trick.
“We always expect great things from George [Campbell],” said Cirovski. “He’s had some good opportunities this year. He played really confident, aggressive, and free. He was really special tonight.”
Campbell credited the coaches with his breakout performance.
“They constantly reiterate the fact that we are all here for a reason, and if we weren’t good enough to do it then we wouldn’t be here,” Campbell said. “They’re always in my ear that they believe in me, they believe in all of us.”
Campbell also said that the rigorous practices have strengthened this team physically and mentally.
“Everyday at practice is a battle,” he said. “The competitiveness of our team really makes everyone better. We constantly sharpen each other.”
Cirovski believes this is a great game to build off of, calling it a transformative and character-building victory.
Cirovski also said that he was reinforcing mental toughness this week, and it paid off in the end.
“We were in a hole but we found a way to win,” Cirovski said. “That says a lot about the possibilities for this team.”