Kori Edmondson capitalized on two free position attempts shortly after the Terps fell to a four-goal deficit. It appeared the Maryland attack had finally found its spark.
A comeback seemed like it could be on the horizon, as the Terps found themselves behind 9-7 with just over six minutes on the clock. Then, Penn State flipped the switch.
Two Nittany Lion free-position goals put the game out of reach for No. 10 Maryland women’s lacrosse (12-4, 4-1 Big Ten), who fell to No. 18 Penn State (11-4, 3-2 Big Ten), 12-7, Thursday in University Park. Ten of the 19 scores in the chippy battle were from the eight-meter line, and Maryland tied its lowest output of the season with just seven scores.
“Credit to Penn State, they outplayed us tonight all over the field, they outplayed us on the offensive end, on the defensive end and in the midfield,” coach Cathy Reese said. “They executed their game plan well, they attacked us hard and earned the win tonight for sure.”
Both teams’ attacks struggled to find rhythm early on, as the Terps led the Nittany Lions just 2-1 after the first quarter. All three goals in the period came from free position shots.
But the Penn State offense came alive midway through the second period, scoring three times in a three-minute span to take a 4-2 lead over the Terps.
The Penn State defense was able to hold strong throughout the second quarter as well, packing the inside and seemingly having every Maryland cutter covered until Libby May was able to bite back with 2:20 left in the half, capitalizing on a woman-up opportunity.
That was Maryland’s third woman-up opportunity of the half, as Penn State’s physicality on the defensive end would not go unnoticed by the refs. But it was only the first time the Terps took advantage, as Reese’s squad entered the break behind 4-3.
The strong Penn State defense continued to slow Maryland’s offense in the second. The Terps took over eight minutes to score, with the Nittany Lions notching twice in that span.
It was May again who found the back of the net, giving her a hat trick and cutting the deficit to two. Three minutes later, Eloise Clevenger scored off a feed from Chrissy Thomas to cut the deficit to one with 3:48 to go in the third quarter.
Penn State was able to flip the momentum back to its favor as time ticked down in the third frame, scoring with 28.5 seconds on the clock to enter the final period with a two-goal advantage over Maryland.
“We weren’t really attacking the cage very hard, we felt like we weren’t really executing what we were asking on offense. And so when we came out after halftime, we were trying to kind of make some changes,” Reese said. “We just didn’t do it… [there was a] lack of urgency and too many uncharacteristic turnovers, which kind of put us in a tough situation tonight.”
The Nittany Lions momentum carried over the break, as two quick scores gave them a 9-5 lead.
A Kori Edmondson free position put the Terps within three in their fifth women-up situation of the game. Only a few minutes later, Edmondson found herself on the eight-meter line yet again, cutting the deficit to two with 6:19 on the clock.
The goal was Edmondson’s third and was the fifth free position score out of the Terps’ seven finishes, but the Nittany Lions scored two quick free positions of their own in just over a minute, giving them an 11-7 lead that the Terps could not overcome.
Maryland suffered its first Big Ten loss of the season and fell back in the conference standings behind its next opponent, No. 2 Northwestern. The Terps have some time to rest and prepare before they travel to play the Wildcats on April 22, where they could still clinch a share of the Big Ten regular season championship.
“Lacrosse is a game, so you gotta reset and be able to move on,” goalie Emily Sterling said. “We have probably the biggest week of our year coming up, the last regular season game as well against a top team in the country who’s hungry … it’s nice that we have these [eight] days to be able to reset, refocus and kind of adjust to what we need to adjust to.”