Penn State forward Payton Linnehan charged up the right side of the field. She attempted a crossover pass, but instead hit Maryland women’s soccer’s Emily McNesby in the face, causing her to fall to the ground. From there, Linnehan seized the ball and sent it to Rachel Wasserman, who placed it into the back right corner of the Terps’ net without hesitation.
As the Penn State players hugged and cheered with excitement for the third time in the first 17 minutes of the game, goalkeeper Kennedy Tolson was left disappointed and tired — fearful of what may happen with 73 long minutes remaining.
It only got worse for Maryland. Wasserman’s strike was the final of three first-half goals for Penn State in a dominant performance from the Nittany Lions. And the Terps never found a foothold in the game, dropping their fifth straight contest, 6-0.
Witg the loss, Maryland closed a winless season, one defined by lots of effort, tireless running, but, ultimately, little end product.
The Terps games have been heavily weighted on the defensive side thus far in the season, and Saturday’s game against Penn State would be no exception.
[With a strong freshman class, Maryland women’s soccer is set for the future]
Linnehan opened things for the Nittany Lions in just the second minute. She charged onto a through ball, and deftly lifted it over Tolson’s head from 20 yards out — raising her arms in celebration.
Only a few minutes after scoring their first goal, the Nittany Lions would return for their second.
Frankie Tagliaferri pushed through the Terps’ defense, and cooly finished the ball to the back of the net for a 2-0 lead, leaving Maryland’s back line in shock.
But, despite trailing by two, the Terps still created some chances to get back in the game.
In the twelfth minute, Adalee Broadbent made Maryland’s first shot attempt of the game, which traveled out left — followed by an Alyssa Poarch attempt which soared over top.
Despite the Terps attempts to keep the ball in Penn State territory, it wasn’t long until the Nittany Lions scored again — with Wasserman bagging the crucial third.
After that mark came a series of Maryland substitutions, including Krista Varrichione for Tolson. Halfway through the first period, the game seemed over.
The score stayed the same for the rest of the half. Tori Paul and Alyssa Poarch each made a final attempt, but couldn’t salvage a goal.
[Goalkeeper Kennedy Tolson has been a consistent performer for Maryland women’s soccer]
The second half served as an opportunity for the Terps to redeem themselves. Coming back from a 3-0 deficit is not unheard of — and Maryland had already tasted late drama against Michigan State to open the season.
But as the second half progressed, the chances of making a comeback became increasingly slim.
Less than three minutes in, Ally Schlegel got on the board. Following a pass from Tagliaferri, she charged the net shoulder to shoulder with a Maryland defender, and used her left foot to place the ball neatly in the top right corner of the net.
Excited about scoring her second goal, Schlegel ran down the field with her arms outstretched, pointing to her spectators and hugging Tagliaferri.
Despite their domination against the Terps, Penn State showed no mercy. Less than five minutes later the Nittany Lions scored yet again — this time with Tagliaferri’s second goal.
In the 54th minute, Schlegel added her second, rounding the keeper and firing the ball into an empty net.
And Penn State saw out the game from there, controlling the tempo and continuing to dominate possession.
So, Maryland lost yet another game — this time against the Big Ten’s best — and with the regular season over, it won’t have an opportunity to try and bounce back.