Maryland women's soccer ended its season in a depressingly familiar fashion, dropping a 1-0 match against Nebraska in Lincoln and squandering a tantalizing opportunity to score. Both teams' best chances in front of goal were quite similar, and as was so often the case this season, the Terrapins couldn't put theirs away and their opponents did.
The Cornhuskers dominated the stat sheet on Wednesday night, outshooting Maryland 18-5, but the game felt much less one-sided than that. In another theme that was true throughout the season, though the Terrapins allowed many shots, they mostly prevented any attackers to sneak behind them. Nebraska was content shooting from distance, especially in the first half, and Maryland goalkeeper Rachelle Beanlands dealt with the shots rather effortlessly.
The Terrapins had just one shot in the first half, but it may have been more dangerous than any of Nebraska's 10 in the first 45. In the 39th minute, after a throw-in, the ball came to the feet of Riley Barger about 10 yards in front of goal. Barger shot high and wide, and the teams entered halftime scoreless.
The second half saw more of the same, with Beanlands collecting five saves for a total of 11 on the game, tying a career-high, but she was rarely truly tested. Nonetheless, as happened in several games this season, eventually the defense sprung a leak and Nebraska was able to score.
The Cornhusker goal came in the 81st minute and originated from a free kick from near midfield, which Beanlands came off her line to punch out. The ball reached the edge of the box before finding a Cornhusker, whose shot was blocked. The rebound popped up for Alli Peterson, who lobbed it over Beanlands, still off the line, and a couple of other defenders, into the back of the net. In a season filled with them, it was a tough, unlucky goal surrendered by the Terrapins.
Finding themselves down 1-0, the Terrapins fought as hard as they have all season, and it nearly paid dividends with a little over a minute to play. That's when Madison Turner sent a cross towards Alex Anthony, drawing goalkeeper Erika Johnson out to try to corral it, and Anthony was able to gain possession.
Anthony played a back pass to Barger, and with the goalkeeper all but out of the play, Barger's shot found the chest of the only Nebraska defender stationed on the goal line. Natasha Ntone-Kouo had a chance at the rebound, but it too was blocked, and the Cornhuskers easily bled the final minute off the clock to secure the 1-0 victory.
The loss pushed Maryland's final record to 6-12-1, and 1-9-1 in conference. Including Wednesday's season finale, eight of those nine conference losses were one-goal defeats. The Terrapins netted five goals in 11 conference games, and dropped five overtime games, four of which came against Big Ten opponents.
All of those factors led to the Terrapins finishing tied with Iowa for last place in the conference. In comparison, the Hawkeyes lost seven conference games by multiple goals.
Many stellar defensive performances went by the wayside for lack of production up front in 2015, which was at times agonizing for the Terps, and saw many more lows than highs.
Tonight's match against Nebraska was just another to add to the list.