Team Chemistry The Difference Maker In Penn State Women’s Lacrosse’s Pivotal Upset Over Maryland
Penn State women’s lacrosse improved to an 11-4 season record following its upset over Maryland Thursday night. While it struggled and fell to ranked Michigan and Northwestern squads within the last two weeks, Thursday’s game against Maryland was a necessary boost to the team’s overall confidence and morale.
The Nittany Lions entered their contest with Maryland already battling an internal issue: the loss of junior attacker Gretchen Gilmore to a season-ending injury on Sunday against Cornell. Although the absence of the offensive cornerstone could’ve set the team back, it instead stepped up for her.
“We’re a great family for our program. One person goes down, we all wanted to play for her,” head coach Missy Doherty said of the team and Gilmore. “She’s been such a huge part of our success this year, and that was part of our passion to play.”
In Gilmore’s absence, freshman Emma Kelly scored a career-high four goals while Meghan Murray and Brooke Hoss also recorded hat tricks. The team was aware of the importance of the game and the need for energy early on.
“This sets the bar high for us for the Big Ten tournament and going into the NCAA tournament,” Kelly said. “We really needed this one.”
Proving that Gilmore’s absence, a higher-ranked opponent, and coming off a loss couldn’t shake them, the Nittany Lions remained grounded and focused on the task at hand.
“We were fired up and it doesn’t affect us,” defender Haley Urgo said of the early deficit. “We knew we were going to kick it in the air and that’s exactly what we did. After every break we had, we said reset and we’re going to come out and focus on stopping the ball, getting it back. And that’s exactly what we did.”
The bounce-back win wouldn’t have been possible without the team motivating each other through individual actions. The players gave each other the final push to get the job done, a key difference from last season’s struggles.
“I would just say it’s our team chemistry,” Urgo said of the upset. “We have the best chemistry probably across the Big Ten and we love watching our teammates be successful and every single person contributed today.”
The chemistry on the field from Penn State was undeniable against Maryland, one of the best teams in the nation. The palpable energy among the team after every successful play provided the extra momentum needed to push past the Terrapins.
While the matchup looked like an offensive showdown, the performance started from the defense, and momentum and stamina were built through big saves by goalkeeper Ashley Bowan.
“That’s what it’s all about, coming here to compete hard and coming up with some really big wins,” Doherty said.
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