Maci Bradford received the ball after a collection of give-and-go passes down the pitch. Pulling the ball across her body to the left side of the shooting circle, she landed in a backhanded shot. The ball slipped just between Penn State’s goaltender’s foot and post and rocketed into the back of the net three minutes into the match.
Bradford’s score was the first of four Maryland goals Sunday, and it gave the Terps a lead they would never surrender. No. 8 Maryland breezed by No. 16 Penn State in a 4-2 win for its first Big Ten victory.
“It’s been awhile, for whatever reason we haven’t been able to come out on top with Penn State,” coach Missy Meharg said. “What I loved was our vigilance, our absolute heart on fire from the beginning and our willingness to link all the lines together.”
Both the Terps and Nittany Lions entered Sunday winless in conference play, both dropping double-overtime matches to Rutgers.
Maryland (8-3, 1-1 Big Ten) has consistently dominated in the beginning of its matches, scoring 10 goals in the first quarter in its first eleven games. That continued in the Terps’ conference home opener.
Bradford got the scoring started early in the opening frame. After tallying the Terps’ equalizing goal in overtime against Rutgers last week, the freshman’s six goals are second most on the team.
A penalty corner one minute into the second quarter set up the Terps’ second score. Hope Rose received the insert and drove the ball into the defenders feet. The rebound was gathered by Josie Hollamon, who swung a backhanded shot into the top right corner in a score that looked identical to her cousin Bradford minutes prior.
“Hope had a great shot and we have been working on second phase opportunities and we were able to execute off of that,” Hollamon said.
Four minutes after Hollamon’s goal, Rose had another chance to convert on a penalty corner. Maura Verleg settled the insert from Margot Lawn and passed to Rose, who drove the ball into the goal.
The Terps ended the half up three scores, containing Penn State’s few offensive advances and taking advantage of small penalties in their defensive half.
Alyssa Klebasko started in net after sitting out of the loss to the Scarlet Knights. She kept the Nittany Lions off the scoreboard until late in the third quarter. She knocked away a high drive with a stick save early in the match. Late into the second quarter, she displayed her flexibility by stretching out on the goal line to block a penalty corner shot. Klebasko finished Sunday with five saves.
Maryland’s shooting circle prowess continued in the second half, totalling 11 shots after the break. The Terps fired a consistent line of shots at goalie Brie Barraco but struggled to find the net until Hollamon’s shot from the outside right snuck through for their fourth score.
That gave the Nittany Lions a chance to chip away at their deficit. Sophia Gladieux scored Penn State’s first goal with 40 seconds left in the third quarter. Carly Gannon added another early in the fourth frame that cut Maryland’s lead to two.
But after a three-goal first half, Penn State’s comeback attempt fell short, and the Terps found their first win in Big Ten play on their home turf.
“All of our freshmen are outstanding, they are born to play this game and it’s been my vision to have them on this field,” Meharg said. “They are winners, they like pressure, they find pressure a privilege and I’m not surprised.”