The Maryland women's soccer team had three reasons not to like State College, Pa.
"It's freezing there, and it's snowy, and we've lost there for the past three years," said junior midfielder Mallory Mahar. "We always thought that field was cursed."
But the NCAA tournament committee sent the Terrapins to central Pennsylvania, and less than three weeks after getting pounded, 6-0, by the Nittany Lions, Maryland left State College on Sunday with two wins and a spot in this weekend's third round. The unseeded Terrapins (9-6-4) will face No. 15 Washington on the road in a match tentatively scheduled for Saturday at 8. The winner will play either Boston College or Princeton the following weekend.
A 3-0 win over Loyola (Md.) on Friday set up Sunday's rematch with Penn State, which had won 39 straight home matches and was the tournament's No. 2 seed.
Mahar's diving header on a feed from Kimmy Francis in the 33rd minute was the game's only goal. Shortly after the goal, Francis left the game with a slightly sprained knee and did not return. Maryland was out-shot 18-7, and needed sophomore goalkeeper Nikki Resnick to make two saves on breakaways in the second half to preserve the win.
"We were pulling our hair out in the second half, just trying to hold on," Maryland Coach Shannon Higgins-Cirovski said. "I was incredibly proud; we outworked them on their field."
The Terrapins, who were the eighth seed in the ACC tournament, were scheduled to meet Washington (16-4-1) during the regular season, but that match was canceled because of Hurricane Ivan.
To Mahar, next week's opponent hardly mattered.
"If we can knock off the number two seed," she said, "we can win over anyone."
-- Dan Steinberg