As goalkeeper Noelle Frost made her way to the goalmouth for the fourth quarter Friday with Maryland field hockey holding a commanding 3-0 lead, “Rest in Peace” — the menacing theme song for pro wrestling legend The Undertaker — blared across the stadium, underscoring the Terps’ dominance up to that point.
But the song’s ominous tone instead set the stage for a frantic fourth frame, where Frost took over with an impressive six-save display to propel No. 4 Maryland to a tightly contested 3-1 victory over Penn State.
It was yet another top-drawer performance from the shot-stopper, who has had a breakout senior season for the Terps.
“Noelle is a Terp,” coach Missy Meharg said. “She’s scrappy. She’s mentally scrappy, she’s physically scrappy.”
Prior to Friday’s game, Frost enjoyed a bit of a whirlwind week, earning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors Monday after impressive showings against Virginia and James Madison in last weekend’s Terrapin Invitational.
“I remember when I was an underclassman, I never said it out loud,” Frost said on Tuesday, “But I always [thought] ‘God, I want to get this award.’ I’ve always wanted to help my team in such a substantial way that it shows that it means something. Honestly, it means a lot to me.”
The accolades continued to pile up, with Frost earning the NFHCA Division I Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday.
The Glenwood native took that award-winning form into Friday’s battle with the Nittany Lions. Through the first three quarters, Frost made a single save, with Penn State struggling to break through the Terps’ back four.
Despite the lack of chances, Frost guided the Maryland defense from her post, instructing her defenders and midfielders on the positioning and movement of the opposition’s attack.
“I see all the players,” Frost said, “I will communicate to [Bodil Keus] where her girl is, then we’ll move from there.”
But as the Nittany Lions began to enjoy more influence in the final third of the pitch, Frost came to life. The senior was called upon numerous times, especially as the typically stout Maryland defense struggled to cope with Penn State’s penalty corner routines, ceding a season-high seven corner attempts in the final frame alone.
“The first three quarters, we kept up our focus,” Keus said, “In the fourth quarter, we [made it] difficult. We need to get back to our basics and do the simple things.”
Nittany Lion midfielder/defender Madison Hutson found the net from a penalty corner routine with six minutes left, ensuring a tight battle down the stretch would ensue.
But Frost was equal to Penn State’s attacks, making a series of diving saves to her right to keep the lead at two.
“As goalkeepers, once they hit it, we’re just dropping to the ground and just covering the space,” Frost said. “I know Bodil has everything to the left of my feet, and I’ll take the rest of the bottom of the cage.”
And ultimately, Frost’s standout fourth quarter exhibition was just enough for the Terps, who were able to fight off the late Nittany Lions rally. And after struggling for game time in her first three seasons at Maryland, the senior netminder is showing off her true quality for the 7-1 Terps in her final year.
“She’s very humble and very hard-working,” Meharg said, “and she’s doing exactly what it is she worked so hard to do.”