Despite having all odds against them, Penn State was able to come out dominating against Maryland — the defending Big Ten champions and second-best team in the country — in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
The game finished with a 1-0 Penn State win. The Nittany Lions will now go on to play in the finals on Sunday against the winner of Friday night’s game between Iowa and Northwestern.
Penn State was first on the board in the middle of the first quarter when junior Emma Spisak tipped it into the net.
The half finished with a 1-0 score in favor of the Nittany Lions, which wound up being the final score of the game.
There was a limited amount of shots taken by both teams due to the assertiveness of the defenses that allowed it to be a close match.
The Nittany Lions prove that they want it
Penn State took advantage of every opportunity that it had to take possession of the ball.
During the quarterfinals, the Nittany Lions showed a level of confidence that had not been seen before in their play. However, they continued with this energy into the semifinals.
Sophomore goalkeeper Brie Barraco put herself in front of the ball and was able to stop all of the Terrapins attempts at scoring during the first period.
Penn State maintained possession for the majority of the first half and that gave the team the opportunity for more shots on cage.
Communication is the key to success
During the regular season, Penn State was unsure about putting themselves into the game, which resulted in it being outplayed.
However, the Nittany Lions’ defense has shut down numerous penalty corners during the tournament that would have ended in goals if it weren’t for the communication of the defense.
As in any sport, communication is as essential as skills in field hockey.
Penn State has strengthened its communication, which is evident by the amount of completed passes to open players, offensive strategy in goal scoring, and its defense on penalty corners.
Hustle plays make a difference
With 40 seconds left in the third quarter, Maryland was able to get a penalty corner.
However, the shot was swiftly blocked away by Barraco and was passed up the field towards the Terrapins side of the field.
As the ball rolled, uncontrolled, toward the Maryland goalkeeper, junior Alexis Horst did not slow her speed as she sprinted towards the ball.
Even though Penn State was unable to score, the play was an example of the tight match that was being played by the Nittany Lions and the Terrapins. Both wanted to advance to the next round, and that was clear by their energy.