Coming off its first top-25 victory in more than four years, Maryland women’s soccer was looking to overcome another historical demon against Penn State on Friday.
Since joining the Big Ten in 2014, the Terps were 0-4 against the Nittany Lions, failing to score a goal in each contest. And with the score knotted at zero entering halftime, Maryland appeared to be in decent position to steal a result on the road.
However, after a defensive lapse allowed midfielder Emily Ogle to set up forward Kerry Abello deep in the Terps’ box, goalkeeper Rachel Egyed never stood a chance. Abello perfectly placed the ball in the back of the net, and the Nittany Lions held on for a 1-0 victory, beating Maryland for the fifth consecutive year.
“We were fortunate to get out [of the first half] 0-0,” coach Ray Leone said. “We regrouped, played much better in the second half, and really had some good opportunities. Not enough, and not enough on frame, but Penn State is as good as it gets in the league.”
Despite winning by only a goal, Penn State (10-5, 6-2 Big Ten) dictated play throughout the lopsided matchup. Maryland (4-8-4, 2-5-1 Big Ten) was outshot 17-6 and struggled to possess the ball in its opponent’s territory.
In the opening 20 minutes, Maryland seemed to only touch the ball on clearance attempts, and the Nittany Lions finished the match with 10 corner chances to the Terps’ two. Of the Terps’ six scoring attempts, none troubled goalkeeper Amanda Dennis, who wasn’t tasked with making a single save.
“We were slow it seemed like [in the first half],” Leone said. “We were slow to press the ball, and with that team you can’t give them that much time on the ball. They’re just going to pick you apart.”
But although the Terps were unable to muster many chances offensively, Egyed and the Maryland backline didn’t relinquish the fight. Egyed made six saves in the contest, but none were bigger than her 41st-minute denial.
After a foul call on forward Alyssa Poarch just outside the box, defender Alina Ortega Jurado earned the Nittany Lions’ best scoring opportunity of the first half — a direct free kick chance from about 25 yards out. Rather than trying to score a goal herself, Ortega Jurado laid a skidding pass around the Terps’ wall of defenders.
The well-placed feed earned midfielder Frankie Tagliaferri a one-on-one scoring chance with Egyed, and the redshirt senior was up for the challenge. Her diving stop kept the match scoreless, but it didn’t matter in the end, as Abello’s second-half score was the difference on Friday.
“It was a pretty good performance from us considering the level of team we were against,” Leone said. “I’m never happy that we didn’t get the point or three points, but at the same time, we fought down to the last second.”