UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Nittany Lion field hockey team (15-3, 6-1 B1G), ranked No. 5 in the NFHCA Coaches Poll, dominated No. 2 Maryland (14-2, 7-1 B1G) by a 4-1 score in the home finale for Penn State Friday night. The Lions gave up an early first period goal and then dominated the remainder of the game to roll to the resounding Big Ten victory at the Penn State Field Hockey Complex. The win keeps Penn State's chances for a share of the 2022 Big Ten Field Hockey Championship alive as the Lions need one more win next Friday at Rutgers to grab a share of the crown.
Sophia Gladieux nearly scored in the opening minute with a blistering shot deep in the Maryland circle. But Terrapin keeper Paige Kieft made a diving save and then another on Grace Wallis' rebound effort to keep the Lions off the board early. Maryland picked up a corner with 10:32 on the clock. The visitors took a 1-0 lead on the corner play with Dani Van Rootselaar scored with assists from Bibi Donraadt and Nathalie Feichter at the 10:27 mark. Maryland continued to pressure the Lion cage, but the defense held, and the Nittany Lions worked the ball back down to the Maryland circle, picking up a corner at the 5:00 mark. Penn State also connected on its corner sit with Gladieux scoring off assists from Elena Vos and Mackenzie Allessie at the 4:55 mark. The game moved to the second period tied 1-1.
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Allessie gave Penn State an early lead, dribbling the ball through the Terrapin circle and knocking a close shot past the Maryland keeper at the 13:11 mark. Penn State continued to work in the Maryland circle and forced a penalty corner with 12:08 on the clock. The Lions scored once again off a corner play, with Anna Simon connecting off assists from Allessie and Vos with 12:02 left in the first half. Maryland worked the ball into the Lion circle and had two shots, one saved by Lion keeper Brie Barraco and another blocked as the clock dipped below the 10:00 mark. Penn State continued to pour on the offense. Kelsey Love moved the ball into the top of the Maryland circle where Gladieux grabbed the pass and immediately sailed the ball past the Terrapin keeper, scoring at the 8:39 mark to give Penn State a 4-1 lead. Penn State stayed in control for the remainder of the period and carried the 4-1 lead into halftime.
Penn State outshot Maryland 9-3 in the first half and had a 2-1 corner edge. There was only one goalie save in the first half, for Maryland's Kieft.
The two teams battled through an even third period. Penn State's defense was able to push back Maryland's pressure and neither team managed a shot in the first part of the stanza. Penn State got hit for a green card with 5:23 left in the period but the Lion defense regained possession and Penn State moved the ball down to the Maryland side of the field. Gladieux stole the ball inside the Terrapin circle and nearly scored again, but Maryland goalie Christina Calandra knocked the shot away as the clock hit 3:30. Gladieux's short shot was the best chance for either team in the period and Penn State carried its 4-1 lead into the final period.
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Maryland began the fourth period with a penalty corner early and continued by peppering the Penn State goal with shots, but Barraco made three great saves and a fourth was blocked. Penn State continued to lead by three as the clock moved to 12:00. Maryland's offense kept the ball on the Nittany Lion side of the field, but Penn State eventually worked action into the Terrapin circle and picked up a corner with 10:39 to play. Maryland defended the play, but Penn State maintained control of the ball as the clock moved below 10:00. Penn State controlled the action for the next five minutes with Ella Jennes nearly scoring and Wallis have a shot slip wide. The Nittany Lion defense kept Maryland from threatening the cage as the clock hit 4:00. Jemma Punch added a final Penn State goal with a nifty drive to the top of the circle and a shot that found the back of the cage with 3:13 left in the game. Punch's final punch gave the Nittany Lions the resounding 5-1 win.
"We had a great week of practice, and the girls did a wonderful job of carrying out our gameplan tonight," said head coach Char Morett-Curtiss. "Our pressure on the ball was phenomenal and we were consistent from half to half. This is a very good win for us against a good opponent and we'll enjoy this tonight. But tomorrow we will get to work because Rutgers is playing exceptional hockey right now and we hit the road for our final Big Ten game of the regular season next Friday."
The Nittany Lions outshot Maryland 14-7 and had a 3-2 edge in corners. Barraco had three saves for Penn State while Kieft and Calandra each had two saves for Maryland.
Penn State is now 14-2 overall, 6-1 in the Big Ten. Maryland fell to 14-2 and dropped its first conference game of the season, moving to 7-1 in the Big Ten. The victory over Maryland means Penn State can grab a share of the 2022 Big Ten Championship (with Maryland) by winning its final conference game of the regular season. Penn State closes out the regular season and conference slate at Rutgers next Friday, Oct. 28, at 3 p.m. The Penn State/Rutgers game will air live on the Big Ten Network.