Gustafson trifecta gives Maryland a surprising 3-1 upset of Penn State.By Gary Davidson
COLLEGE Park, Md. (Tuesday, August 29, 2000) -- Thereís nothing sweeter for a striker than to find net three times. For Maryland junior Sara Gustafson, her first career hat trick came sugar-coated.
"I really donít like this team and I wanted to beat them more than anything in the world," said Gustafson of the triumph before 898 supportive fans at Ludwig Field. "If there was one game out of this season I wanted to play this one."
Preseason rankings can be misleading and, regardless of the ratings, Maryland was the quicker, better organized and more motivated side." You can say whoeverís better on paper about any team, but itís whoeverís got the heart on that day and whoever wants it more," Gustafson said. "And I know damn well my teamís got more heart than anyone else out here."
Perhaps, the fact that Gustafson had already lost four times to the Nittany Lions in her collegiate career had something to do with her distaste for the Big Ten school. She played her freshman year at Indiana, which lost three times to its conference rival. After transferring to Maryland for her sophomore season, Gustafson saw the Terpsí season end 3-2 at PSU in the NCAA tournamentís second round.
"This is the fifth time Iíve played this team and the first time I played them at home," said Gustafson who had four goals in 22 starts in 1999. "I played them three times when I was at Indiana and lost every single game by one goal. And last year, with the NCAAs, we lost by one goal and we were up 2-0 and I was pretty mad. This is the first time I ever played them on our home field."
Gustafson put Maryland (2-0) ahead 2-0 in the first four minutes. She took a soft cross from sophomore defender Carly Viher and beat Penn State keeper Emily Oleksiuk in the lower right corner at 1:35. Then, at 3:57, Gustafson took a pass from Valerie Lawrence and put it over Oleksiukís head from inside the box for a 2-0 advantage.
"The first one, I was just in the right place at the right time," Gustafson said. "Then, the second one I just ripped."
PSUís star sophomore striker Christie Welsh pulled the Lions (1-1) back to 2-1 at 9:30 with a 15-yard shot, but despite a 20-10 shots advantage, State could not pull even.
"We just came out completely flat and Maryland came out great," said Welsh, a member of the United States national team. "They came out ready to play and we didnít and we got ourselves caught in a very difficult situation."
Maryland senior keeper Riki-Ann Serrins equaled her career high with 13 saves, including a sliding point-blank stop of senior midfielder Shari Pickett in the 68th minute. Nine of Serrinsí saves came after intermission when PSU launched 13 of its shots.
"They had a few shots, but our defense did very well, making sure the shots came from far out," Serrins said. "They werenít really getting too many in-close, short-range shots which makes it a lot easier for me. I can see them a lot better and I have a lot more time to react."
Lawrence did a strong job of marking Welsh and Viher came up big on a couple of occasions when the big striker broke free.
In the 63rd minute, Welsh carried into the left side of the penalty area where she took an angled shot that Serrins stopped. The ball rolled in front of the unprotected goal, but Welsh could not put the ball past Viher.
"Once it hit my stomach, I went down and then she hit it again and I stopped it," Viher said. "The Riki tipped it out and saved it wide."
In the 86th minute, Welsh again went deep into the left side of the box and put a cross past Serrins, but Viher ran the ball down and started a counterattack that led directly to Gustafsonís final tally within the minute.
"I think our defense was that good," Viher said. "We did really awesome. We connected so well. We ran around the
midfield. We won every single ball . . . Most of their shots were 30, 40 yards out and Riki had an easy catch on them. I
think they were just taking shots to take shots."
Gary Davidson is managing editor of SoccerTimes and can be e-mailed at
Gary Davidson is managing editor of SoccerTimes and can be e-mailed at email@example.com
 Maryland 3,  Penn State 1