By: Shannon Rostick, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- As the rain poured down over the lacrosse field yesterday evening, the Penn State Nittany Lions took on the undefeated Maryland Terrapins in a tough battle looking to tie for the top spot in the Big Ten. Although Penn State fell to Maryland with a final score of 10-9, the girls put up a tough fight and gave the Terrapins a run for their money.
Penn State is one of only two teams to get within one goal of Maryland in the final score this season, which just goes to show that the Lions made themselves a worthy opponent last night.
At the start of the game Maryland won the draw, bringing the ball down to Penn State's goal.
The Lions were able to gain back possession for a while, as a result of some slipping and falling due to the weather, but unfortunately, Maryland got the ball back and earned themselves the first goal of the game.
Maryland followed up with another two goals to bring the score to 3-0.
Penn State won the next draw allowing Jenna Mosketti to net a goal off an assist from Madison Cyr.
Another goal followed that at the hand of Steph Lazo as she came in from the side and beat out her defender to the net.
The team was proving that they could hold their own against the No. 1 team in the country, and they were able to maintain a close score throughout the game.
Lazo spoke about their performance against Maryland and how well they were able to keep up with the reigning Big Ten regular season champions.
"Maryland is number one and it's a great challenge to rise against, but we hung with them and I'm so proud of the team today," said Lazo.
Throughout the rest of the first half, both Maryland and Penn State each netted three goals apiece, with Penn State getting the last two goals of the half.
Going into halftime down only one goal, the team was feeling confident for what was to come in the second half, and the girls were ready to keep fighting hard on both sides of the field to keep up with their Big Ten rivals.
A huge contributing factor to the team's performance in the first half was the efforts of their defense and goalkeeper Emi Smith, who praised her team for helping her to succeed in stopping Maryland's shots.
"My defense did an insane job today; the shots I saw were because of them and they hustled the entire time and stopped a lot of Maryland's shooting opportunities," said Smith.
The second half did not start off in Penn State's favor, as Maryland scored the first goal of the half, once again bringing them further into the lead.
To follow that up Penn State was forced to play with a man down after senior Ally Heavens got a yellow card.
With the ball down by Maryland's goal, the girls passed it around until Heavens was back on the field.
With the all their girls back in play, Penn State pulled it together and netted another three goals, bringing the Lions into the lead.
A majority of those goals were with the help of Steph Lazo, who assisted both Jenna Mosketti and Kelly Daggett in pulling the team ahead.
Head coach Missy Doherty commended Lazo for her performance in the game and her ability to see her open teammates and feed them the ball, while also seeing opportunities for herself and being able to put away her own shots on goal.
Unfortunately, the girls were not able to keep their lead and Maryland scored three consecutive goals to bring back their lead.
Penn State got off one more successful shot to bring them within one goal of tying up the game, but despite their best efforts they were unable to tie up the game and force the contest into overtime.
Although they lost, the entire team and their coaches agreed that they played one of their best games all season last night.
"Losing isn't the greatest feeling, but to know that they are the number one team in the nation and that we can hang with them, that is great for us," said Lazo.
Next week the team will enter into postseason play in the Big Ten Tournament, and with that the team is noting the improvements they can make based off of tonight's game to come back and try to win another tournament title.
"I think we just really needed to put our shots away. We had some good looks on cage, but we didn't put our shots away," said Doherty.
Lazo also spoke of the improvements that can be made on the offensive end heading into the tournament.
"We're a very diverse and powerhouse offense and we just needed to stay calm and composed because we can get those shots," said Lazo.
The team will begin postseason play next week in their quarterfinal game of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday, May 5th at Northwestern. The game will be aired on the Big Ten Network.