On Sunday, Maryland returned to the field after suffering their first loss of the season Friday against West Virginia. They bounced back nicely and beat La Salle 1-0, the lone goal coming directly off an early Shannon Collins corner kick. Fatigue began to set in during the second half, but the Terps were able to hold off the Explorers late and secure their third victory of the season.
Maryland started off on the front foot big time, keeping the ball at will for the first 10 minutes as they pushed forward. In the 7th minute, Kayla Shea played a ball down the right side to Natasha Ntone-Kouo, who did well to win a corner kick. Shannon Collins took the corner and scored directly from it, as she sent the ball curling toward the near post, off the side of keeper Katie Getzinger, and into the back of the net. It wasn't intentional, and it was somewhat fortunate, but the Terrapins gladly accepted the handout from the soccer powers that be.
La Salle's first shot came not long after, an effort from long distance after they finally managed to string some passes together and get around Maryland's defense. Play evened out a bit after the score, but it was still Maryland having more success. Shannon Collins nearly picked up a pair of assists off corner kicks to Sarah Molina, but the first of the headers was right at the keeper, and the second was just wide, in the 26th and 31st minutes respectively.
La Salle's nearest-miss of the first half came after a giveaway from Maisie McCune in the midfield led to a long, chipped shot from Kari Nickels that seemed destined to drop into the upper right corner, but instead found the bottom of the crossbar and then the fist of a leaping Rachelle Beanlands.
Maryland had a slew of opportunities in the 37th and 38th minutes, including Sarah Fichtner earning a 1-on-1 with the keeper, but her touch was just a bit heavy and Getzinger was able to get a hand on it with a dive. Fichtner poked it loose, however, and it ended up on the foot of Alex Anthony, whose shot required a clearance from a defender just in front of the goal.
The ensuing corner sailed over everybody, and Kady Badham ran onto it. The freshman dribbled it inside down the goal-line, and played it back to Katie Waters. Waters' shot was blocked and rolled to Riley Barger near the top of the box. Barger took the shot low and to the keeper's right, but Getzinger was able to handle it.
La Salle nearly equalized right before halftime when a long ball was placed perfectly on the head of Maci Las Bower in front of net, but she couldn't get on top of it and the shot flew over. That final shot was the 4th of the half for the Explorers, compared to Maryland's 12.
Maryland wasn't able to sustain the success they had in the first 45 minutes in the second half. They couldn't connect passes as well and couldn't find the touches in the final third that were coming so easily to them early in the game. La Salle had the majority of the chances in the second half, and the more dangerous ones as well. A few times, one of their players made an individual play that led to a good shot, but they weren't able to find the target.
In the 74th, Las Bower nearly did get the header goal she missed in the first half, this time directly off a corner. Unfortunately for the Explorers, it ended up being the second shot that bounced off the crossbar and was taken care of by an outstretched Beanlands.
Twice late in the half, Alex Anthony was just inches away from being all alone behind the defense, but the first time a defender got a touch on the pass to her and the second she was caught from behind on a breakaway. Meanwhile, La Salle was pressing, and two times in the last few minutes Beanlands made very nice plays coming off her line to collect crosses, once while absorbing some contact.
Maryland had a different lineup than we're used to Sunday, with Sarah Fichtner moving from the midfield to the backline, and freshman Cassie Phillips stepping into the vacated midfield spot. This was due to Amanda Gerlitz being dinged up after Friday's match, and Erika Nelson still not at 100% with a knee injury. Luckily, Fichtner proved herself a very capable defender.
Head coach Jonathan Morgan said Fichtner's 1-on-1 defense was "awesome" and that she took advantage of having the sideline to be used as an extra defender. Shannon Collins said that despite the rest of the backline not being as familiar with Fichtner, she performed very well. Fichtner, meanwhile, commended the rest of the defense, including Beanlands, for "talking the whole game" and helping her get into position.
Much like West Virginia did against the Terps Friday, Maryland easily outshot La Salle in the first half, but had just one more shot than the Explorers in the second. Morgan pointed out that La Salle had an extra day of rest compared to the Terps, who fought well and didn't let any fatigue hold them back too much.
The Explorers had no answer for Natasha Ntone-Kouo and Kady Badham's speed and skill down the flanks, as both forwards routinely dribbled around and used bits of finesse to beat their defenders. Tonight can be seen as a bit of a coming out party for both of them, and Morgan hopes that after tonight "they really believe in themselves," and know they can get behind the backline with a dribble. "We need them to be dangerous," he said, "we need them to be able to create opportunities for us."
The Terps would have liked to have a bit more of a cushion than the 1-0 lead afforded to them by Collins' corner kick goal, but a win is a win. They already have 3 wins this year after winning just 5 all of 2014, and will take those wins on the road to Texas for games against TCU on Friday and SMU on Sunday.