No. 6 Maryland field hockey (13-5, B1G 4-4) and No. 7 Penn State field hockey (13-4, B1G 6-2) both enter the Big Ten Tournament riding a four-game and three-game win streak, respectively, as they face off in the Quarterfinals in Piscataway, New Jersey.
The Terps last faced the Nittany Lions back on September 18, when they fell 3-2 in overtime to the Nittany Lions as Penn State midfielder Sophia Gladieux scored two goals including the game winner.
“We’ve increased our way of scoring, we’ve become a lot stronger in the defense and we’ve just become more connected,” midfielder Brooke DeBerdine said.
With penalty corners, DeBerdine’s observations are true. And in their season finale, the Terps scored five of their six goals off of penalty corners in their 6-0 shutout victory against Ohio State on Friday. Both the Terps goals against Penn State came off of penalty corners, too, making continued strides with penalty corners especially vital for their success.
Penn State has three goal scorers who have scored the bulk of the team’s 45 goals. Gladieux leads the team with 16 goals and defender Anna Simon and midfielder Mackenzie Allessie have scored 11 and nine goals, respectively.
“We have to stop Allessie and Gladieux,” head coach Missy Meharg said. “Sometimes you don’t even think Mackenzie is interested in playing and then she’ll be wicked dangerous, so we got to be constantly on our mark. We have also been working hard on defending backward shots when it comes to Gladieux.”
The Nittany Lions also have a strong goalie in Brie Barraco who has played all but six minutes for Penn State. Barraco has saved 75 shots this season while only allowing 24 goals.
“I think where we are at right now is probably the best hockey we played this entire season,” forward Hope Rose said. “We’ll see what we can do.”
Maryland’s top form is necessary. Six of the seven teams in the tournament field are ranked in the top ten.
The sixth seeded Terps take on the third seeded Nittany Lions on Thursday at 5 p.m. The match can be streamed on Big Ten Plus.