‘We play for each other,’ Penn State’s Mackenzie Allessie on beating Maryland 5-1

Penn State’s first shot on goal had Maryland’s goalie dancing in her kickers.

It happened two minutes and 45 seconds into the first.

While the shot made things look promising for the Nittany Lions, it was Maryland who struck first. But that’s all they got.

Penn State won 5-1 on its senior night, and homecoming weekend. The Lions and Terps, vying for the top seed in the Big Ten Conference, will soon find out where they land in the first round of playoffs scheduled on Nov. 3.

Dani Van Rootselaar, a graduate student from Bilthoven, The Netherlands, was the lone goal scorer for Maryland. It happened just over four minutes into the game. On a corner, the ball was inserted to her at the top, where she flicked it just high enough to hit the top of the backboard.

Things were looking good for Maryland. But Penn State didn’t like it.

One reason for an immediate change: Mackenzie Allessie. The senior midfielder instantaneously kicked up the pace, in which all other Lions jumped on board.

Five minutes later, the synergy paid off. Sophia Gladieux, who had to depart the field late in the game for a hand injury, ran in on a tip in front of Maryland’s keeper. Allessie inserted, Elena Vos ripped it, and Gladieux tipped it. The ball’s pace was too quick to find in the air. It landed in the cage.

After that, there was an immediate difference in Penn State’s approach.

Allessie, who seems to always play with power and urgency, punched in the Lion’s second goal. She created room for herself inside the circle, protected the ball with her stick, and dodged two Maryland defenders. The backs continued to try to apply pressure. So, Allessie did some quick thinking.

She looked for the shot but didn’t have it. She kept moving away from the goalie, which also brought the defenders with her. Once she felt like it was safe to take it, she tapped the ball in backwards between her legs without really taking a hard look at the cage.

The slower paced shot rolled over the goal line making it 2-1.

“We play for each other,” Allessie said. “We’re not playing for someone on the sideline. We’re not playing for another team. We’re playing for ourselves. We’re just self-motivated that way.”

Anna Simon took the next crack at scoring. She cranked a hard drive to the goalie’s right on a corner a few minutes later. Allessie paced the insert and Vos set Simon up.

“I just take a deep breath and just, like, talk to myself and be like, just swing through it,” the graduate student from Hanau, Germany said. “It’s just another corner and that’s kind of how I calm myself down.”

Right behind that goal was another one from Gladieux. She received a pass from Kelsey Love and smacked it into the air. The shot was another one tough to defend for Maryland’s keeper Paige Kieft.

Penn State didn’t put their pride on the line. They knew being ahead 4-1 at halftime didn’t guarantee them a victory against a tough opponent like Maryland.

Once they resumed action, it was evident that the Terps had their sights set on Simon, as she was being heavily marked.

“I mean, to be honest, I always think that’s kind of a compliment,” Simon said. “And they did a really good job staying on us and pressing us, but I think we got it done. So, super happy about that.”

The Lions 2022 squad is “versatile,” Simon said. Any member of the team could score which is something they are focused on achieving in the third quarter.

Maryland held the blue and white, not giving them a goal in the third, and only gave the Lions one in the fourth. The third has been a trial-and-error quarter for Penn State.

Head coach Charlene Morett-Curtiss said she thinks they’ve “gotten over that hump.”

“We didn’t get as many shots in the third quarter, but I felt like we were steady,” she said.

What worked for State was having everyone understand the game plan, Morett-Curtiss said. It was reviewed Wednesday and Thursday.

“Our press was phenomenal,” she said. “We couldn’t give them a lot of opportunity to really get going.”

Moments like Allessie defending Van Rootselaar’s reach and containing her speed were shining moments for the team, Morett-Curtiss said. She called Van Rootselaar “dangerous.”


Penn State was “consistent from half to half,” she added.

“We didn’t want to have a let-down in the second half,” she said. “The kids are going to enjoy this win. And then we really have to focus on Rutgers. Rutgers beat a really good Northwestern team last week. We know that everybody in the Big Ten is very capable of being successful. So, get a good rest in this weekend. Let them enjoy the victory. Get the game plan together Sunday for Friday at Rutgers.”

Jemma Punch, a senior from Queensland, Australia, ended Maryland’s comeback chances in the fourth. She accelerated toward goal, got inside the circle, and let her shot ride to the back of the cage.

“They had one goal when they entered the circle once,” said graduate student Grace Wallis of Blue Bell. “So, we were just like, come on guys, like, we had them from the start. So, just keep it going that way, help each other out.”

Maryland plays Virginia at home on Wednesday. The Terps are then off to Connecticut to play the Huskies at their place.

Head coach Missy Meharg’s thoughts about the game: “I think, you know, you’re a good team, you’re a solid team. You take a lot of shots. You’re playing against a really, athletic team, who has probably some of the most potent forwards in the country. And maybe you get a little apprehensive.”

Allessie’s goal “set the tempo” for State, Meharg said. She said she wants to “clean up defensive corners a bit” and make sure Maryland’s “stepping up ruthlessly to intercept and counter.”

“We were a little hesitant to step back and away,” she said. “And, I think in the third and fourth quarters, we were really dominant. We played the hockey we’re proud of.”

 Nittany Lions: 5

  • Goals – Sophia Gladieux (2), Mackenzie Allessie (1), Anna Simon (1), Jemma Punch (1)
  • Assists – Allessie (2), Vos (2), Kelsey Love (1)
  • Shots – 14
  • Penalty corners – 2
  • Saves – Brie Barraco (3)

Terps: 1

  • Goals – Dani Van Rootselarr
  • Assists – Bibi Donraadt (1), Nathalie Fiechter (1)
  • Shots – 7
  • Penalty corners – 3
  • Saves – Paige Kieft (4)
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