In a game weighted with importance because of their early season struggles against teams in the bottom half of the Big Ten standings, the Maryland Terrapins women's soccer team hosted yet another opponent far below them in conference play, in this instance, the Northwestern Wildacts. Once again, the game presented a real chance for Maryland to move up into the top third of Big Ten and once again, the Terps managed to come away with only a single point playing the Wildcats to a 0-0 tie.
First half inaction
Maryland appeared to be thinking pink on breast cancer awareness night as neither team seriously challenged the other's goal in the first half. There were shots, yes. And both teams had them and both had a few on goal. However, Maryland's - none of which came in or near the eighteen yard box - seemed launched more in the hope that that Northwestern goalkeeper Lauren Clem wasn't paying attention than from any real evidence that they had developed a sound chance to score. None challenged Clem and she made four easy saves.
On Northwestern's side, their offense seemed intent on getting the ball to their leading scorer, Addie Steiner. Entering the game, Steiner had scored eight of the WIldcats' seventeen goals and had taken just over one-third of their shots. By the time the half ended, Steiner hadn't added to her goal total but had taken five of Northwestern's nine shots. "The first half, we her a little too much respect and a little bit too much space," said Maryland head coach Jonathan Morgan. "But I thought the second half we did a really great job with her." Steiner would manage only three shots and none on goal in the second half.
Second half - chance, no chance
Maryland certainly came out with aggression hidden under their pink socks to open the second half. They maintained possession in the offensive half for most of the first six minutes. But it would be the Wildcats that would develop the first good chance coming after a misdirected pass that found Steiner's head but the effort went safely high.
The Terrapins' offensive aggression showed as they picked up three corner kicks - the first of the match for either squad - in the first 20 minutes of the half but failed to execute and never challenged the goal. Maryland had a free kick from about 22 yards just right of straight on after a Northwestern foul but Shannon Collins shot soared far over the crossbar.
In the 76th minute, Northwestern had a chance of the game on a shot by Niki Sebo. Sebo's shot came from some distance and Terps keeper Rachelle Beanlands made a relatively facile save that preserved the tie. The Wildcats had one last chance in the 89th minute but this time the Terrapins' defense came up with the block. Thus, the scoreless thrills would continue into overtime.
Underwhelmed in Overtime
For the first time since 1993, Maryland would play in their third consecutive overtime game. For the third consecutive time, neither squad would score and for the third consecutive time, the Terps would leave a chance to move up in the standings on the field. Of course, when a team struggles to score - and the Terps have now been shutout six times this season - a tie is the best result to receive. Fortunately, Beanlands and Maryland's defense have often been up to the task as the Terps have come away with ties in three of the six shutouts they have suffered.
After the game, Morgan acknowledged as much, "I think we've left a lot of points on the table," he said. "At this level, you've got to take advantage of your opportunities and although we've competed and I think we've played well. We just haven't been good enough in front of goal."
Maryland returns to the pitch Sunday afternoon when they host the Illinois Fighting Illini. The game will kickoff at 1:00 pm at Ludwig Field. The Terps stand at 5-4-5 on the season and their 3-2-4 record in B1G play keeps them squarely in seventh place in the conference.