Penn State Women’s Lacrosse To Battle No. 1 Maryland For Big Ten Title
Penn State women’s lacrosse team, ranked No. 8 nationally, will take on No. 1 Maryland in College Park for the inaugural Big Ten championship title on Thursday evening.
With the Big Ten title on the line, Penn State looks to defeat a No. 1 seed for the first time since 2005, when it thwarted both Virginia and Princeton. Both teams have already clinched first-round byes in the tournament, but the winner of this matchup is ensured a No. 1 seed in the Big Ten Tournament, while the loser will grab the No. 2 seed.
Penn State is no stranger to the College Park turf. The Nittany Lions have battled with the Terrapins 51 times, making Maryland Penn State’s most frequent opponent in history, with the all-time record in favor of Maryland at 36-14-1. The last time the teams met was Feb. 22, 2014, where Maryland won 14-7. Penn State has not defeated Maryland since 2005, a narrow 13-12 win.
While both teams are undefeated in the Big Ten (4-0), Maryland is undefeated on the season, with an immaculate 16-0 record. The Terps have a 29-game home winning streak to boot.
This year, high-scoring Maryland has found the back of the net 232 times to Penn State’s 209 goals. The Terps rule the fundamentals as well, with 245 draw controls to Penn State’s 196. The Lions may have an edge on at least one aspect of defense, though, with 111 saves to Maryland’s 104. This statistic is of course impacted by the fact that Maryland has had possession more than Penn State, giving its opposition fewer chances to score in the first place. With a 6.45 GAA and a .491 save percentage, Maryland goalie Alex Fitzpatrick is the best in the Big Ten. While considering these statistics, it is important to note that Maryland has played 16 games while Penn State has only played 15.
Although the statistics might suggest Maryland will leave the field victorious, the 2015 Nittany Lions know a thing or two about upsets. Last Sunday, then-No. 12 Penn State beat No.7 and seven-time NCAA champion Northwestern 14-10 for the first time since 2003. This game allowed the Lions to showcase defensive skills, and although the Wildcats outshot Penn State 26-22, goalie Emi Smith made 10 crucial saves.
The takeaway from last week’s win is that the Lions can handle the pressure when a high-scoring team has possession. That will be key to a Penn State victory on Thursday.
The game will air on Big Ten Network on Thursday night at 7 p.m.
Photo: Mark Selders/GoPSUSports