"Today we deserved better." Those were the words that Maryland Head Coach Jonathan Morgan used to describe his team's 0-0 tie to Michigan State in a very physical game at Ludwig Field on a very hot Sunday afternoon. Maryland had outplayed Michigan State for most of the game and the 0-0 score was not indicative of how the game went. Well, as Clint Eastwood said at the end of 'Unforgiven', "Deserve's got nothing to do with it." It was Maryland's first 0-0 tie since August 19th, 2012 and their first 0-0 tie at home since October 8th, 2011. In other words, 0-0 is not a typical Maryland result.
But this season has been anything but typical for Maryland. Maryland's record is now 3-3-2 (1-1-1 in conference). They have been shut out in four of their eight games this season. They have not scored in half of their games! HALF! Including the second half of their Big Ten opener against Rutgers and their two games this weekend, Maryland has a scoring drought stretching over 200 minutes. Both Morgan and Maryland forward Cory Ryan said that the Terps just couldn't find a way to finish on Sunday.
Maryland survived an early scare just two minutes into the game as Michigan State's Paige Wester had a one on one with Maryland goalie Rachelle Beanlands and she shot it wide to the right. Allyson Krause got another one on one with the keeper in the eighth minute but hit it right to Beanlands. The Maryland defense was having a lot of trouble with Sparty playing balls over the top to their forwards. The Terps responded by ratcheting up the offensive pressure. Morgan made a tactical adjustment, subbing in midfielder Aubrey Baker to get better passing and cohesion from his midfield. It worked but Maryland couldn't finish their chances.
There was a scary moment for Michigan State with 31:22 left to play in the game when Shade Pratt went up for a header and collided with the Michigan State goalie, Courtney Clem. Clem stayed on the ground for a few minutes and trainers attended to her. Clem got back up and Maryland attacked right away, drawing a corner kick. Sarah Molina's header was on target but Clem was right there to make the save. Maryland out-shot the Spartans by a wide margin in regulation, 16-6. Maryland defender Shannon Collins played up repeatedly, trying to spark the offense but it was to no avail. Maryland got opportunity after opportunity and couldn't come up with the game-winner. The Terps threw everything but the kitchen sink at the Spartans but both teams were scoreless at the end of regulation.
When the first overtime period started, Maryland looked to pick up where they left off. They had the look of a team that was trying to finish off a tired opponent but just couldn't land the blow. Maryland had a slew of good chances including a header that was knocked down and picked up just outside the goal line by Clem. "I thought it was going to be a goal." said Ryan, shaking her head. Michigan State came out with a renewed vigor in the second overtime period and looked like they had gotten their second wind. They did a much better job of possessing the ball in the midfield.
Ryan and Gabby Galanti came back on for the Terps with about six minutes left in the second overtime as Maryland looked to make their last push for the golden goal. Collins' corner kick with a little over three minutes to go was cleared and Maryland never threatened again. Maryland defender Erika Nelson was called for a handball just outside the box and Kirsten Evans' free kick with about 20 seconds left was just high of the goal. "They played hard...Really proud of the group and they did everything that we asked them to do." said Morgan after the game. Despite out-shooting the Spartans 7-2 in overtime and 23-8 over the course of the game, the Terps left the field disappointed. Ryan summed up the offense's performance, "We kept working hard...We were just unlucky." Morgan praised the defense, which recorded its third shutout of the year. The back line has undoubtedly been Maryland's strongest part of the team so far this season.
The Terps head to the heartland next week for games against conference leader Iowa on Thursday and Nebraska on Sunday. Going into the season, Maryland knew that they were going to have to find a way to score goals. Eight games in, they still haven't come up with an answer. For a team that was picked to finish third in the Big Ten this season, that could spell big trouble.