Kelsey Smith drew a free kick after a defender tripped her in a dangerous area. The free kick, taken by Madison Krakower near the left corner kick flag, landed in the center of No. 6 Penn State’s goal box and right into the gloves of its goalkeeper.
The opportunity was ultimately one of Maryland women’s soccer’s only promising chances to find the back of the net Friday evening in the Terps’ 4-0 defeat, their largest loss of the season.
Coach Meghan Ryan Nemzer’s squad had limited offensive opportunities Friday as the Nittany Lions’ defensive organization pushed up the field into the Terps’ defensive half. Penn State’s press ultimately made it difficult for Maryland’s offense to generate passes up the field and scoring chances.
Nemzer said her team needs to focus on fixing its offensive and attacking details.
“I think there was too many technical mistakes and not enough awareness of how to keep the ball,” Nemzer said.
Penn State entered the match with 19 goals in seven games, while Maryland came in with nine tallies in eight contests. Most chances Maryland had to move the ball forward were immediately stopped as a Penn State defender was already positioned to disrupt the counter.
In the 15th minute, Liz Beardsley booted the ball from her goal box to midfield, attempting to find a Maryland player. Beardsley’s ball perfectly landed at Peyton Bernard’s chest just past the midfield line where she was unable to settle it to her feet and forced an unnecessary turnover.
Penn State’s defense read the play by stepping further up the field, allowing them to steal Bernard’s giveaway. It led to an uncharacteristic play back to Maryland’s defense, which led to another giveaway back to the Nittany Lions’ midfield.
If Penn State didn’t collectively move up the field at the time of Beardsley’s kick, Bernard potentially could have entered open space with no approaching defenders and played the ball to a teammate joining the attack with her.
Another offensive chance the Terps could have capitalized on came in the 12th minute. Defender Kennedy Bell followed Penn State’s tactic by pressing up the pitch when her team didn’t have possession of the ball. Bell intercepted the ball at the midfield line and sped past Nittany Lion defenders all the way into the goal box.
The freshman’s effort led to a powerful shot that scattered across the mouth of the goal and went wide for a Penn State goal kick.
“We had a lot of times where we actually broke their press and we did train that as far as the movements,” Nemzer said. “When we have an open shot, you gotta take it. We spoke about a few things they tend to do and we got away from those on the attacking side of it.”
Bell’s dangerous attack was the Terps’ first shot of two over the entire game.Penn State had already posted four shots at the time of Bell’s strike.
The Nittany Lions registered 27 shots by the final whistle.
Maryland must tweak the “little details,” Beardsley said, if it wants to get back in the win column.
“Continuing to stay compact and solid between our lines, just little details, but they’ll make a huge impact for sure,” Beardsley said.