Nittany Lions Offense Overwhelms Terrapins
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Maryland Terrapins strolled into town looking for their first conference win of the season and instead ran into a hungry Penn State offense that remained relentless as the Nittany Lions defeated Maryland 1-0 Thursday.
Right out of the gate, the Nittany Lions got two shots off in the first three minutes of the contest and continued to get good opportunities from Megan Schafer and Frannie Crouse.
The Lions dominated the possession from the start, rifling off shot after shot to keep the UMD defense on their heels. The quantity of shots was great, but the quality of them was not on par. Many of the early shots sailed from the net and did not prove to be serviceable threats.
The first half ended after a diving save by Maryland goalie Rachelle Beanlands, the longest tenured goalie in program history. She finished the first half with five saves and zero goals allowed despite the fact Penn State had rifled off 14 shots.
As the teams entered the break, the visitors still had not put up a shot.
Play resumed at Jeffrey Field with Penn State coming out guns a blazing. Crouse got off to another hot start and recorded three shots in the half’s first five minutes, one requiring a diving effort from Beanlands to keep out of the net.
Maryland’s game plan revolved around defense, where they held upwards to nine defenders inside or close to the box for the majority of the match.
While peppered with shots all game, the plan worked relatively well as they deflected the bulk of Penn State’s shots and allowed a limited number of shots on goal.
Their strategy proved successful until Penn State’s 27th shot with 13 minutes remaining. After a cross found Mallory Weber alone in the middle of the box, she slid after the ball and collided with goalie Beanlands. The ball popped backwards and allowed Schafer to finish it off for the game’s only goal.
The Terrapins were unable to flip their switch to offense during the game’s closing moments and failed to get more than one shot on goal the entire game. That one shot, which was far enough off to question its status, occurred with roughly 30 minutes remaining and was not close to threatening.
Throughout the game, the Lions were able to shut down Maryland powerhouse Alex Anthony, who is second in the B1G in goals and shots. Anthony did not record a shot all game and struggled to force pressure on the opposing defense.
Penn State executed an aggressive attack with 30 total shots and showed poise to earn their fourth conference win on the year and ninth overall.
Of the winner’s key players, Raquel Rodriguez was one that stood out and help carry the squad. The senior acted as the team catalyst, taking the pivot role and creating several solid opportunities during the bout. She fired off a team-high five shots and continues to have a stellar season.
“As far as I’m concerned, [Raquel] Rodriguez is the best midfielder out there.” Said Coach Erica Walsh on Rodriguez’s impact. “Her ability to handle pressure, her leadership, her ball-winning...right now she’s as good of a college player that I’ve seen.”
The impeccable defense of Penn State team helped the team not only in this game, but has all year. In the past eight games alone, PSU has given up just three goals and boasts a 6-1-1 record.
One of the forces on defense, Elizabeth Ball, believed it was one of the best defensive performances of the season.
“It’s amazing. We really focused on it and we just worked so well as a unit today,” said Ball when mentioning the defense. “They had a great attack, but it was just awesome to see our team work so cohesively.”
The Nittany Lions now look to continue their three game win streak against Indiana this Sunday in another conference game.
Ryan Berti is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @RBirdman7