WHO: Maryland Terrapins @ Nebraska Cornhuskers
WHAT: Women's soccer B1G Conference game
WHERE: Nebraska Soccer Field, Lincoln, NE
WHEN: Sunday, September 28, 2014 at 3:00 pm (Eastern Time; 2:00 Central)
After opening their inaugural Big Ten season with three straight home games and a 1-1-1 result, the Terps women's soccer team garnered a redemptive 1-0 win in Iowa City handing the Iowa Hawkeyes their first loss in conference play. Maryland looks to make it two straight as they complete their longest toad trip of the season when they face the Nebraska Cornhuskers in Lincoln Sunday afternoon.
On paper, Sundays's game looked to be the less challenging of the two contests. The Cornhuskers started the weekend 4-4-1 and 0-2-1 in conference play while Iowa was 8-1 (3-0) and had won four straight all by shutout. However, Nebraska's 1-1 tie with Rutgers Friday should be enough to get Maryland's attention.
Cornhuskers on the pitch
Nebraska had one of the most successful seasons in program history winning both the Big Ten regular season and conference championships in 2013. They finished 19-4-1 overall and 10-1 in conference play before losing in the second round of the NCAA Tournament to Boston College.
The Cornhuskers were a potent offensive squad that averaged 2.25 goals per game. Offensively, they were led by a brace of J.J's - Jaycie Johnson and Jordan Jackson who combined to score 26 goals and added 14 assists. Toss Mayme Conoroy's 11 goals into that mix and you've accounted for nearly 70 percent of Nebraska's 2013 goals. Their defense featured goalkeeper Emma Stevens, who had a 1.08 goals against average (GAA) and a .783 save percentage, and All-American and B1G Defender of the year Ari Romero.
Although Johnson and Conroy have both returned for Nebraska, the Cornhuskers' offense appears to be suffering from the departure of Jordan Jackson. Though her nine goals were only third best behind Johnson's 17 and Conroy's 11, the dual threat Jackson had a team leading 12 assists. Without their leading play maker, Nebraska's scoring has dropped to just 1.6 goals per game.
Both Romero and Stevens have graduated and, as a result, the Huskers have not been as effective defensively thus far this season as they were last. Sophomore Kelly Schatz has taken over in goal for Stevens and is conceding 1.4 goals per game with a .682 GAA for the 4-4-2 (0-2-2) Cornhuskers.
Nebraska can be tough at home and seems to raise the level of their game based on the quality of the opponent. They lost in double overtime to then 20th ranked Oklahoma and played 25th ranked Rutgers to a 1-1 tie Friday afternoon.
Players to watch
Jaycie Johnson, #19, sophomore, forward. Johnson led Nebraska in scoring as a freshman finding the back of the net seventeen times and seven of those were game winners. She's been nearly as effective through the first ten games of the current season with six goals and two assists. Johnson was named by the B1G coaches as a preseason player to watch.
Mayme Conroy, #11, senior, forward. Conroy returns as Nebraska's second leading goal scorer from 2013 and finished third in points as a junior. Like Johnson, Conroy was named as one of the Cornhuskers' preseason players to watch. She is currently second on the squad with three goals.
Once again, the Terps are breaking new ground. As has often been the case with B1G programs, Maryland and Nebraska have never net on the pitch. Feeling as though I'm running out of options, I considered this song as the musical first time reference for no particular reason. The Terps will look to build on their win at Iowa in which they ended their nearly three game scoring drought. A win would put them in position to have an impact in their initial Big Ten season.