Emma DeBerdine took a shot from just outside the cage with about 10 minutes left. Once again, Penn State goalkeeper Brie Barraco came up with the save.
She couldn’t cover the ball, and Maryland field hockey continued to try and get the ball in the cage. But it couldn’t. And the Nittany Lions kept rolling and eventually closed out a 3-0 shutout of the Terps on Friday afternoon.
“We did not play well,” coach Missy Meharg said. “We played a good team that played very systematically as one. I applaud them.”
Penn State seemed to be in control for the entire match. The Nittany Lions’ offense took 13 shots against Maryland’s nine.
Just over five minutes into the match, Bree Bednarski fired an insertion on a penalty corner. Elena Vos set up an Anna Simon shot perfectly, and the junior defender took a shot that sailed past a diving Noelle Frost and gave Penn State (2-2) an early lead.
It took nearly 15 minutes for Maryland (2-3) to draw its first penalty corner. With three ticks left in the opening quarter, the Terps lined up for it, and defender Riley Donnelly sent a shot that was deflected and knocked away.
The Nittany Lions continued to show their strength in the second period, drawing a corner just 29 seconds in. Frost took care of the shot, diverting it away from goal. But the press was on, with Penn State’s attack growing in confidence throughout the frame.
The Terps struggled to get a shot off for the majority of the second period. With a minute left, defender Maura Verleg deflected a Penn State shot away and sent the ball upfield. Maryland’s attack charged toward the cage, a place where it hadn’t spent a lot of time in.
Bibi Donraadt ended up launching a deep, backhanded shot from the left side of the 23-meter line. Her shot was wide, and the Nittany Lions held onto their 1-0 lead going into the break.
“Outside of Bibi’s shot, I don’t really recall a lot of shots,” Meharg said. “We’re gonna watch the game tomorrow.”
And nothing changed as Penn State started attacking from left to right in the second half. As it continued to pressure Frost and Maryland’s defense, midfielder Sophia Gladieux took a shot that sailed high of the cage.
With eight minutes left, Maryland again tried to get its offense going. Forward Mayv Clune took a shot that was kicked away by Nittany Lions goalkeeper Brie Barraco.
“I feel like we were isolated the whole time and didn’t really attack and numbers,” Meharg said.
But Penn State’s pressure continued to intensify. And eventually, it broke through again. Off its fourth penalty corner of the match, Gladieux connected, slotting past Frost to extend the Nittany Lions’ lead to 2-0.
“The connection just wasn’t there between the lines today,” Brooke DeBerdine said. “We didn’t come out with a good mentality.”
And Penn State’s dominance continued into the fourth quarter. Two minutes into the final period, Gladieux had a hand in another Penn State goal, assisting when midfielder Emma Spisak found the back of the cage.
But Maryland wasn’t going away. The Terps peppered Barraco with shots, including a whipped DeBerdine effort. But like countless times before, Barraco came up with the save.
With just under five minutes to play in regulation, Maryland earned another corner. Off a Donraadt insertion, a shot from Taylor Mason came up empty.
Meharg’s side battled, sending shot after shot toward Barraco’s cage. But it couldn’t overpower Penn State’s powerhouse. Barraco made seven saves, safely protecting the Nittany Lions cage.
And Barraco is someone who many of the Maryland players know.
“I think we all know Brie from a couple different USA stuff,” DeBerdine said. “And she’s a very good goalkeeper; she’s very quick with her reflexes.”
It was too little, too late for the Terps, who failed to mount any sort of consistent offense en route to a third loss in the last four games.
Now, Maryland seems a world away from the national championship side it has revealed itself to be throughout Meharg’s tenure, a trajectory Meharg and her staff will hope to correct in the coming few weeks.
“The game is an enigma to me,” Meharg said.