Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Stellar performance from Erica Evans powers No. 1 seed Maryland to victory over No. 4 seed Penn State in Big Ten Semifinal

With 10:02 remaining in the first half and Maryland leading 8-4, junior defender Lizzie Colson scooped up a loose ground ball and began sprinting up the field. Using her speed and lacrosse IQ, Colson attacked the goal and weaved through the Nittany Lion defense firing the bounce shot into the back of the net. A midfielder back in high school, Colson traveled up the field with ease and confidence. Immediately after scoring, Colson was met by an ecstatic Brindi Griffin who leapt into her arms celebrating the goal.

“I’m proud of [Lizzie] for being confident to take that look and it was obviously a huge piece of excitement for our whole team,” head coach Cathy Reese said.

Griffin was not the only one to celebrate, every single other Terp on the field and off the field was jumping up and down in excitement including Reese, whose reaction was, “Oh my God.” Colson’s goal was her first of the season and one of 10 first half goals, which propelled No. 1 Maryland to the 15-8 victory over No. 4 seed Penn State.

“I just remember seeing that lane, my coaches and teammates really encourage me to take risks,” Colson said. “I used to play midfielder in high school, so I felt comfortable shooting the ball.”

While Colson showed her offensive touch, midfielder Erica Evans continued her strong offensive stretch scoring a team-high five goals. Evans has now scored four or more goals in four consecutive games and is continuing to build confidence with each possession. Kali Hartshorn and Catie May each scored two goals, while Grace Griffin scored a hat-trick.

Penn State opened the scoring on Friday, as junior attacker Maria Auth dodged around her defender and fired the shot past Megan Taylor. After conceding the opening goal, Maryland bounced back with three consecutive goals to take the 3-1 lead over the Nittany Lions. Evans scored consecutive goals for Maryland cutting behind the Penn State defense and finding open space, the beginning of an outstanding half for Evans.

“I think we work on it everyday in practice,” Evans said. “When the slide goes, one of is us is going to be open and whoever was feeding to me found me giving me open opportunities.”

After Evans, Hartshorn scored her first goal of the game with a highlight reel goal catching the feed from Grace Griffin and rifling the backhand shot into the back of the net. Penn State continued to fight scoring a goal to cut the deficit to one junior midfielder Kristin Roberto scored her first of two goals on the day.

Proving to be resilient once again, Maryland orchestrated a 3-0 run to further extend its lead to 6-2. Evans and Hartshorn were once again the catalysts for the run, with Evans scoring on a free position shot and Hartshorn scoring another highlight reel behind-the-back goal. Despite not knowing it at the time, Evans will never forget that free position shot, which was career point No. 300.

“Everything that has led to this is just my teammates, they’re the ones pushing me everyday in practice to go to goal and giving me the opportunities to finish my shots,” Evans said.

Penn State would continue fighting however, scoring a goal to once again cut the cut deficit to three, but the Terps bounced back with consecutive goals including Colson’s goal, which re-energized the whole roster. To close out the first half, the Terps and Nittany Lions exchanged goals putting Maryland on top 10-5 at the half. It was an extremely physical first half, with the Terps getting called for 20 fouls.

“For us it was being emotionally consistent, we had a little bit of an emotional rollercoaster,” Reese said. “Our message to our team is we need to stay emotionally consistent, making sure we’re resetting every play that might not go the way we want.”

Despite Maryland being called for several fouls, the Terps defense stayed aggressive stymying the Nittany Lion offense for much of the first half. As a unit, the Terps defense forced eight first half turnovers.

“I think we have a good defensive mindset where you just have to reset and pick up the next play,” Colson said. “Of course Megan Taylor is awesome in goal and she was really great saving all of those eight meters.”

Early on in the second half, the Terps and Nittany Lions exchanged goals but after that both goalies caught fire with several outstanding saves. Taylor finished with 14 saves for Maryland, while Taylor Suplee finished with 18 saves for Penn State. Maryland took control of the game as the second half progressed scoring four consecutive goals to catapult their lead to 15-6.

Grace Griffin and sophomore attacker Catie May connected twice, May feeding from X on both occasions and Griffin staying patient and composed for the finish. Penn State scored two goals in the final six minutes, to cut the deficit to seven and the final score of 15-8. Although Maryland scored 15 goals, senior midfielder the team’s leading goal scorer did not score, but still found ways to contribute.

“Any given day, you’re going to see different names popping up [on the scoreboard], any of the seven people we have on the field can score,” Reese said. “You’re seeing a lot of people have opportunities to step up when their time came and as a coach that’s what you want.”

Maryland will now await the winner of No. 2 seed Northwestern and No. 3 seed Michigan, with first draw scheduled for noon Sunday at Homewood Field.