After an official demanded a new ball to replace a scuffed one midway through the first half of Maryland's game against Penn on Saturday, Terrapins coach Cathy Reese facetiously asked her team, "Is that why we can't catch it?"
By that time, Maryland was already in full control and Reese was simply imploring her team to stay focused.
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The No. 1 Terps would eventually need a wakeup call to withstand a rally from the No. 20 Quakers before pulling away for a 15-10 victory. Maryland improved to 13-0 and is one of only two undefeated teams remaining in the top 20 media poll after Penn State upset No. 2 Florida, 16-11, on Saturday.
"It was a good win," Reese said. "One of the things we really work hard with here is to not get caught up in anything else. I've been part of teams that have not lost all season, too. We just take it game-to-game, day-to-day and look to get better. That's the approach we take with our team. "
Maryland has outscored opponents, 208-104, this season, winning by an average of eight goals per game. Alex Aust led the way against Penn with six goals and an assist. Katie Schwarzmann (Century) had three goals and an assist, while Beth Glaros (Wilde Lake) and Kelly McPartland each scored twice.
Iris Williamson led Penn (4-4) with four goals, while Courtney Tomchik (Broadneck) and Maddie Poplawski each added two.
Iliana Sanza (St. Paul's), Maryland's top defender, missed the game with a minor knee injury but was expected to return for next Saturday's showdown against No. 3 North Carolina.
Maryland opened a 4-0 lead in the opening seven minutes on goals from McPartland, Glaros, Aust and Schwarzmann. Penn finally got on the board with 20 minutes left on a goal from Williamson.
The Terps, however, continued to pull away and three more goals from Aust helped increase the lead to 10-2 with 5:09 left in the half.
Penn then made a run with three unanswered goals in a span of 2:47, including one from Poplawski that beat the final whistle by a split-second, cutting the margin to five at the break.
"I think at times we showed excellence all over the field and showed our full potential, but what we need to work on now is doing that for a full 60 minutes," Aust said. "It's hard to do something for 60 minutes and have that discipline. But moving forward from this game, that's going to be our key focus."
Maryland won 12 of 15 draws and outshot Penn, 17-10, in the first half.
Williamson pulled Penn to 10-6 with 26:49 left in the game, but Schwarzmann answered for Maryland five minutes later.
Tomchik scored to pull Penn within four again, but the Terps put the game away when Aust and McPartland scored three minutes apart for a 13-7 lead with 12:23 remaining.
"I think we were a little sloppy," Schwarzmann said. "We didn't play a full 60 minutes today. They really capitalized on some of our mistakes. I think from here this will be a learning experience, and we need to put together a full game."