Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Five-goal performance from Caroline Steele propels No. 2 Maryland to victory over No. 8 Penn

Returning from a two game absence against Syracuse on Saturday, attacker Caroline Steele picked up right where she left off scoring a season-high five goals leading No. 2 Maryland (7-0) over No. 8 Penn (6-1), 14-9. In the first half, Steele scored four consecutive goals in various ways including one free position shot.

“A huge win for our program,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “To go 7-0 against another top ten team in four days is something pretty remarkable for these girls.”

Goalie Megan Taylor continued her strong play against the Quakers, finishing with 13 saves, her second consecutive game with 12 saves or more. Before today’s game, Taylor was chosen as the Big Ten Defender of the Week. Despite Taylor’s success, she gives all the credit to her teammates.

“I get a front row seat to watch the best defenders in the country in front of me,” Taylor said. “They make my job easy, without them [the opposing offense] would score all the time on me.”

It was the Quakers who struck first, sophomore attacker Laura Crawford fired a shot past Taylor putting the Quakers on the board early. Although Penn scored two of the first three goals, the Terps scored eight consecutive goals, from trailing 2-1 to leading 9-2 with Steele leading the way.

“My teammates were looking for me and when I had my hands free, I just tried to let it fly and [the shots] were going in,” Steele said.

During the eight goal run, four different players scored for the Terps continuing the theme of offensive balance that has been so prevalent throughout this season. While scoring eight goals, the Terps defense also stifled the Quaker offense holding them scoreless for 15 minutes. During the drought, Maryland’s defensive communication and rotation made it difficult for the Quakers to generate quality shots on net.

Although Maryland built a seven-goal lead, Penn’s offense found its rhythm scoring the final two goals of the first half, cutting the Maryland lead to 9-4 at the half. The second half was much more evenly balanced with both teams scoring five goals.

The Terps did not generate as many shot opportunities in the second half. Maryland shattered the hopes of a Quaker comeback to start the second half, scoring four of the first goals extending the lead to 13-5.

Despite Maryland seeming in firm control, the Quakers would not go away without a fight scoring three consecutive goals. Junior midfielder Erin Barry was pivotal during the run, scoring two of her four goals. Attacker Zoe Belodeau entered the game as Penn’s leading scorer, but struggled with only one goal today.

Two encouraging signs for Maryland moving forward were shooting efficiency and the clearing game. Reese has emphasized the importance of efficient shooting throughout the season, and the Terps scored on 78 percent of their shots on net- including three of four free position shots. In addition, Maryland was 21-21 on clears not turning the ball over and giving the Quakers fast speed offense transition opportunities.

“When we’re over 50 percent [shooting], I like that it’s good,” Reese said. “I loved our clearing, we’ve had a couple games this season where our turnovers came from the defensive end.”

Maryland did struggle with turnovers once again against the Quakers finishing with 15, something Reese knows the Terps need to sure up before conference play begins. The Terps will host Ohio State to open up conference play Saturday with first draw scheduled for noon from Maryland Stadium.

“We just need to look to put the whole length of the field together and take care of our options,” Reese said.