While the Maryland women’s lacrosse team boasts a top-ten scoring offense, its defense took ownership of its Thursday matchup against Penn State.
After only allowing the No. 15 Nittany Lions three goals in the first half, the Terps didn’t allow a score for nearly 17 minutes of the second half.
Despite allowing four consecutive goals late in the contest, Maryland (15-1, 5-0 Big Ten) rode its otherwise strong defensive showing to a 13-8 victory.
“It’s our best game we’ve played defensively so far this season,” coach Cathy Reese said. “This is an area where we’ve really focused in on. … We’re getting better every day, we’re playing where we want to be playing right now.”
Goalkeeper Megan Taylor backed the Terps with eight saves, stopping half of the shots she faced.
Six different Terps notched at least one caused turnover, with Meghan Doherty leading with two. Julia Braig led the squad with three ground balls.
Though Maryland has been disciplined all season, but it seemed to lose composure at times in the defensive battle against Penn State (9-6, 3-2 Big Ten. The Terps committed 14 fouls in the first half alone and totalled 18.
Maryland sent Penn State to the eight meter for free position shots nine times, but Taylor’s play in goal only allowed the Nittany Lions to convert once.
“That’s incredible given that all those eight meters were from the center hash, that’s hard to do,” attacker Megan Whittle said on Taylor’s play. “It also attributes to our defense crashing in and being able to get a stick on that shot.”
Penn State’s defense, meanwhile, limited Maryland to five first-half goals. The Terps’ only game with fewer scores at the half was against Princeton on April 10, when the Tigers led 7-4.
Both teams were quick to double team when guarding their side of the field and had heavy pressure on the clear.
While Penn State still struggled offensively in the second half, Maryland figured out the Nittany Lion defense and maintained more possession.
Whittle led the Terps with five goals. Griffin chipped in with two goals and three assists.
“Our defense feeds our offense,” attacker Grace Griffin said of the second half adjustment. “Coming up with ground balls, coming up with big stops and knowing that maybe our shots were off, maybe the goalie was making an amazing save, that we just had to keep going.”