Watching the Maryland Terrapins women's soccer team get shutout for the eighth time this season in their 1-0 overtime loss to the Wisconsin Badgers in Madison Sunday afternoon makes writing about their season begin to feel like writing for a Marx Brothers movie. Say, Animal Crackers.
Spaulding: This is better than exploring! What do you fellows get an hour?
Ravelli: Oh, for playing we getta ten dollars an hour.
Spaulding: I see...What do you get for not playing?
Ravelli: Twelve dollars an hour
Spaulding: Well, clip me off a piece of that.
Ravelli: Now, for rehearsing we make special rate. Thatsa fifteen dollars an hour.
Spaulding: That's for rehearsing?
Ravelli: Thatsa for rehearsing.
Spaulding: And what do you get for not rehearsing?
Ravelli: You couldn't afford it...Heh...you see, if we don't rehearse, we don't play...And, if we don't play...That runs into money.
Just substitute "scoring" for "playing" or "rehearsing" and you'll more or less have it. With today's shutout, Maryland hasn't scored in their last 123 minutes of playing time - far short of the sting of 261 consecutive scoreless minutes they had earlier in the season but likely no less frustrating. Over their last 413 minutes, the Terps have scored once.
Scoring on Sunday against the Big Ten's stingiest defensive team was going to be a challenge for the Terps had they simply taken a healthy roster from Minnesota. Losing Alexis Prior-Brown for the season and seeing only limited playing time from Alex Anthony and Lauren Berman has certainly created limitations for Maryland's offense. In Friday night's game at Minnesota, defender Erika Nelson suffered an apparent concussion and wasn't available for the Terrapins on Sunday. This forced coach Jonathan Morgan to move one of his offensive threats, Shade Pratt, from forward back to the defensive position she played last year.
First half - Nothing doing
If either team put the other under any pressure for the opening 45 minutes, that credit would go to Wisconsin. For their part, Maryland managed one corner kick, two shots with one on goal, and picked up one foul in a dangerous position.
The corner kick came in the fifth minute but Wisconsin goalkeeper Genevieve Richard easily picked off the attempted cross by Shannon Collins. She did the same on Collins' attempted cross on her free kick from the right side of the box several minutes later.
Alex Doody got off the Terps' first shot in the seventh minute but it went well wide. Their second shot came nearly 31 minutes later off the foot of Gabby Galanti. Galanti turned on a ball about 30 yards from the goal but it needed only a very routine effort for Richard to make the save.
Meanwhile, the Badgers picked up seven shots for the half. They forced Terrapins' goalkeeper Rachelle Beanlands to make three saves at least one of which was a bit more than routine. Still, Maryland's defense held fast against one of the better offenses in the league and the half ended in a 0-0 tie.
Second Half - More of the same
The Terps managed five shots in the second half and one of their best chances came in the 50th minute when Natasha Ntone-Kouo and Alex Doody played a little two man game getting Doody some space at a sharp angle in the left side of the box. But the Wisconsin defense, which always seems to have at least two defenders behind the ball, deflected the shot before it got to Richard.
In the 63rd minute following a Wisconsin foul, Maryland had an opportunity capitalize on a free kick from about 20 yards out. However, the effort went directly into the defensive wall and the Terps mounted only one other true threat.
Wisconsin, meanwhile, was generating threats all over the field. For one stretch of play between the 72nd and 77th minutes it seemed like Maryland was dodging one bullet after another. Much of that defensive success was due to an outstanding effort by Pratt who returned to a defensive position as though she'd never played elsewhere.
With about 40 seconds remaining in regulation, Maryland had a chance to steal a win. The Terps had made one last late rush and a failed Badgers clear gave Riley Barger a shot opportunity from the top of the box. Her low drive toward the near post went just wide and the scoreless game headed to overtime.
Overtime - End of the road
The first overtime belonged entirely to the Badgers who maintained possession for almost the entire ten minute period and held most of that possession in Maryland's half. However, once again, a stalwart Terrapins defense thwarted Wisconsin at every turn and after 100 minutes of play neither squad could solve the other's defense.
The end came in the third minute of the second overtime. With Wisconsin again pressuring forward, McKenna Meuer got off a shot from just inside the box that Pratt deflected over the baseline. On the ensuing corner, Rose Lavelle played a perfect serve that found Kodee Williams in space between several Maryland defenders. Williams picked up her sixth game winning goal of the season for the Badgers heading the ball past Beanlands.
With the loss, Maryland falls to 3-4-5 in conference play and 5-6-6 overall. The Terps are clinging to eighth place in the conference with their lone remaining game on the road at Penn State who clinched the conference title with a 2-1 win over Iowa Sunday afternoon.