The Maryland Terrapins went into Drake Stadium in Los Angeles on Friday night looking to make a statement in their season opener against UCLA, the defending NCAA Champions. Instead it was the Bruins who made the statement, out-shooting Maryland 22-0 and shutting them out in a 3-0 win. They showed everyone why they are the defending champs and why they are ranked #1 in the country.
UCLA went on the attack from the outset. Only 45 seconds into the game, Darian Jenkins launched a shot that hit the post. And as the first minutes if the game wore on, the Bruins showed no indication they would take ease the pressure. They had another opportunity in the second minute but this time Maryland's defense was up to the task. Over the next ten minutes the Terps survived three UCLA corner kicks.
Maryland's defense finally yielded to the relentless pressure midway through the first half as the Bruins scored two goals in the 27th minute. The first came off of a Rosie White corner kick - UCLA's fifth of the game to that point - which Megan Oyster headed into the net. Sam Mewis notched the second goal 30 seconds later as sloppy passing in the midfield led to a turnover and Maryland goalkeeper Rachelle Beanlands failed to corral her shot. The home team nearly added a third score in the span of less than a minute but Beanlands came up with the first of her four saves for the half.
Still the pressure continued and it paid off again when Rosie White finished off the scoring with a goal in the 33rd minute. Trailing 3-0, Maryland coach Jonathan Morgan abandoned the defensive strategy he took coming into the game and inserted Lauren Berman and Natasha Ntone-Kouo into the lineup in the hope of generating some offense. However, UCLA's defense was as effective in slowing the Terps as their offense had been in shredding Maryland's defense. The halftime score could have been even more lopsided but Beanlands stepped up and made three more saves before the half ended.
The principal difference between the first half and the second was that the home team failed to find the net. The Terps, who committed four fouls in the first half were whistled for two more in the first two and a half minutes of the second. The second foul resulted in a penalty kick for UCLA but Beanlands made a great save on Sarah Killion's attempt to keep Maryland close and the score respectable. Only a career night from Maryland's junior goalkeeper kept the final score respectable.
Unfortunately for Maryland, there were not a lot of positives to take away from this game. The only real bright spot for Maryland was the play of Rachelle Beanlands, who had a career high 10 saves. The offense had no teeth and the Terps were simply beaten in all facets of the game by a more talented and more experienced opponent.
A team shouldn't be judged based on their best game or their worst game and certainly not by the first game of the season. Everyone knew going into the game that it was likely to be as stern a test as the Terps might face all season. UCLA clearly established that they are national champions for a reason Maryland learned they have a long way to go before they will compete on that level. But west coast trips are always difficult and the Terps will not be playing teams like UCLA night in and night out this season.
They faced off against the defending champs, the #1 team in the country, and were beaten badly. However, it's also important to keep perspective and remember that this is just one game in a long season. The Terps will need to wipe this game from their memory quickly as they face another great team Sunday afternoon in Malibu. Pepperdine, who won their season opener 2-1 over Cal-Poly Friday is certainly itching to provide another stern test for Maryland.