No. 14 Women's Lacrosse Falls to No. 2 Maryland at ALC/ACC Challenge
April 3, 2009
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Penn State (5-5) ran into one of the nation's hottest teams in undefeated and No. 2-ranked Maryland (12-0) on Friday evening at the ALC/ACC Challenge and came up on the short end of a 20-12 decision. All five of the Nittany Lions' losses this season have come to teams ranked in the nation's top 11.
Senior midfielder Kerry Shea (Baltimore, Md.) and junior attacker Erica Mihm (Annapolis, Md.) headlined the Penn State attack, netting three goals and tallying one assist each. Senior Marisa Lozano (Pittsburgh, Pa.), PSU's point leader, notched two assists. Five of Penn State's 12 goals came on free position attempts.
Junior goalkeeper Stephanie Ellis (Bryn Mawr, Pa.) recorded 12 saves in 47 minutes before giving way to her back-up, freshman Dana Cahill (Towson, Md.). The Nittany Lion defense struggled to control the Maryland attack and had no answer for Laura Merrifield, who scored game-high eight goals.
Maryland started red hot, quickly building a 9-1 lead through the game's first 11 minutes. Penn State responded, though by putting together a 3-0 run, getting goals from Kerry Shea, Theresa Bucci (Hudson, Ohio), and Amanda Longobucco (Sea Cliff, N.Y.). After the Terrapins stretched their advantage to 11-4, the Nittany Lions tried to get back in the game, netting three of the next four goals. Two goals from Erica Mihm and one from Theresa Bucci made the game 12-8 with 2:27 remaining in the half. But that's as close as Penn State would get. Two more goals from Laura Merrifield, her sixth and seventh of the half, upped Maryland's lead to six as the teams headed to the break.
Penn State controlled the outset of the second half, outscoring Maryland, 2-1, through the opening nine-plus minutes. Kerry Shea and freshman Theresa Zichelli (Severna Park, Md.) accounted for the Lions' scores, both off free position attempts. But the Terrapins wrested momentum back for the remainder of the game, tallying five goals to Penn State's two, to secure the victory.
The Lions entered the contest ranked fifth nationally in ground balls per game, averaging over 24, but struggled with Maryland's speed, collecting just five, including zero in the first half, as compared to 17 for the Terps.
The Nittany Lions will continue play at the ALC/ACC Challenge on Sunday when it faces No. 4 North Carolina (9-2) in an 11:00 a.m. contest at Ohio State's Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium. Penn State's match-up with the Tar Heels will mark the 12th time the teams have met, with the Lions holding a 3-8 record in the series. Last year, Penn State dropped a 14-9 decision to UNC at the Tar Heels' Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C.