Mark the date. September 12, 2014. On a cool Friday evening at Ludwig Field on the campus of the University of Maryland, the Terrapins women's soccer squad recorded Maryland's first Big Ten conference win in any sport picking up a 2-0 shutout of the other B1G newcomer, the 25th ranked Rutgers Scarlet Knights.
First Half - Grabbing the lead
The contest started slowly for both squads with only Shade Pratt's run off a just long through ball from Sarah Fichtner creating any threat in the games's opening minutes. But as the crowd built to an impressive 1,409, so did the action. In the eleventh minute, Rutgers got off the first shot of the night building a quick attack down the right side. Stephanie Scholz, one of two Scarlet Knights with three goals in this young season, worked her way free for a good look from just inside the corner of the 18 but she pushed her shot well wide.
Just over two minutes later, Maryland responded with a flurry of their own. The sequence began with a long cross field pass by Lauren Berman to Fichtner who was cutting into the box down the right side. Fichtner centered the ball to Riley Barger who had her shot attempt blocked by the Rutger defense. Pratt picked up the rebound and played it out to Sarah Molina who had an open look from 25 yards but the junior sailed her shot high.
The first shot on goal came off the right foot of Lauren Berman in the 17th minute. It was a long looping attempt from outside 30 yards near the left sideline that Rutgers keeper Casey Murphy handled with easy aplomb. However, the Terps were drawing energy from the growing crowd and the pep band occupying a group of seats behind the Maryland bench and they would continue to be the more aggressive attacking team.
Just over a minute later the Terps had a chance on another long ball by Collins who played a pass from just inside midfield toward Barger at the center of the box. The ball bounded wide of the intended target but Fichtner, rushing down the right side, nearly had an open look. A strong sliding tackle by Maggie Morash saved the goal but set up the first corner kick of the game.
Collins played a lovely and dangerous serve that Murphy had to use every inch of full six foot tall frame to punch out of harm's way. Though the Scarlet Knights cleared, the Terps continued to maintain their pressure drawing a foul in the 21st minute giving Maryland a free kick from about 28 yards out along the left side. It was Collins again making the serve again drawing Murphy off her line. The Rutgers goalkeeper appeared to get a hand on the ball but failed to control it and Maggie McCune was in the right spot to tap it in to the open net.
The junior from Bethesda described it this way, "It was kind of a jumble and Shannon had a really good cross and it sort of hit me then it hit Shade. We both reached for it at the same time. I got the final little touch. And a goal's a goal."
The teams played possession soccer for much of the remainder if the half with Pratt getting the only real chance for either team in the 25th minute. The Terps got the big break late in the first half. With under a minute to play Kayla Shea chipped a long ball this time from the right side just on the Maryland side of midfield. The ball appeared to be intended for Gabby Galanti but as it sailed just over Galanti's attempted header, no one on Rutgers noticed Ntone-Kouo streaking in from the left. Again, Murphy came far off her line this time colliding with a teammate. Ntone-Kouo won the ball and put a sliding shot into a wide open net that put the Terps up by two with nineteen seconds to play in the half.
Talking about the scores, Coach Jonathan Morgan said, "Both goals were kind of gutsy goals. Not the best soccer leading up to them but it's good to have Maisie McCune and Natasha Ntone-Kouo score for us."
Second Half - Holding on
Coming out of the locker room trailing by two, Rutgers quickly went on the attack. The Scarlet Knights have been a potent second half team thus far this season having scored nine of their twelve goals in the second stanza and clearly needed to bolster that record. Though the Terps picked up an early corner kick on a strong counter, it was the Scarlet Knights who had the first scoring opportunity of the half in the run of play.
It came in the 50th minute. Attacking from the left side, Stephanie Scholz intercepted a lackadaisical pass from Erika Nelson intended for Beanlands and got into a one on one situation with the Maryland goalkeeper. Beanlands who had to come far off her line successfully got Scholz, who is tenth all time in goals for Rutgers, to think about the angle and she simply pushed the shot wide of the far post. The mistake prompted clearly audible cheers of "airball" from the band.
The visitors picked up a corner kick in the 57th minute but the Terrapins had it well defended and the the game turned a bit back and forth with the teams trading possessions. Maryland looked content to move the ball laterally and let the clock wind down.
Late in the 57th minute, the Terps picked up an opportunity to extend their lead on a free kick from 20 yards out on the far right side of the box. The serve was was well placed toward the far post but the Rutgers defense blocked Riley Barger's shot.
In the 64th minute, the Terps defense and Beanlands combined to keep the Scarlet Knights off the board. Rutgers developed a well formed attack down the right side but a strong one on one defensive play forced a weak shot from Madison Tiernan's right foot that Beanlands scooped up.
The Maryland defense continued to play solidly and kept the Scarlet Knights' attack in check. In the 75th minute, the visitors had a chance in the with a free kick from about 35 yards. Amy Pietrangelo served the ball into the box and Erica Skroski got above the Maryland defense to launch a header but Beanlands had herself in good position and scooped the ball cleanly.
As the clock wound down, the Scarlet Knights began to press ever more forward. The Terps still appeared more intent on protecting the lead than on developing counters. Maryland's defense clogged the box whenever Rutgers tried to build their offense and the back line protected their keeper from being tested for the remainder of the contest.
The horn sounded at 8:57 pm. The band played the victory song. And the Maryland women's soccer team recorded the first Big Ten Conference win for Maryland and the first in a game played in College Park. They will look to repeat the feat on Friday September 19th when the Michigan Wolverines come to town.