The women's soccer team returned home Thursday after a 2-game road trip to Texas last weekend resulted in a loss and a win and left the team with a 4-2 record. Unfortunately, they fell to 4-3 in 2015 with a 1-0 overtime loss to James Madison.
There was some intrigue during pregame ceremonies, when sophomore goalkeeper Rachel Egyed trotted out to midfield as part of the starting lineup. Senior Rachelle Beanlands had been listed as the starting keeper, but was held out after tweaking her back during the team's trip to Texas last weekend.
Egyed was tested very early by a 3rd minute long shot from the Dukes, and she easily caught the shot, which was directly at her, to notch her first collegiate save. In the 22nd minute, she was called on a second time, and this chance didn't go quite as smoothly, but it didn't cost the Terps. James Madison's Sydney Braun-McLeod played a cross low that drew Egyed off her line with a dive. The ball sneaked out from Egyed, and rolled dangerously in front of the net, but luckily the Terps were able to beat the Dukes to the loose ball and clear the danger.
Maryland had the better of the chances in the first half, and most of them came in the earlier stages. Natasha Ntone-Kouo was wreaking havoc early down the right side of the field, and was playing the ball into the box nicely, sometimes narrowly missing the feet of her targets, other times finding them but watching as the chances were floundered.
The Terrapins outplayed James Madison, especially early, and ended the half outshooting the Dukes 6-2 while earning 9 corner kicks to JMU's 0. Maryland's best first-half chance came off one of those corner kicks, taken by Shannon Collins in the 33rd minute. Collins found Sarah Molina who put a strong header on goal, but goalkeeper Ellen Forrest leaped to push it over the bar.
The second half looked a lot like the middle stages of the first, when James Madison found their footing and competed well, leading to the ball spending a lot of time in the midfield. Both teams did create chances, especially as the game approached full time, with the Terps and Dukes taking 8 shots apiece in the second period.
One of Maryland's best chances came off a corner in the 49th minute, when the ball rolled to the foot of Riley Barger, and the senior's shot from 25 yards out drew a leaping save from Forrest. There was space for both teams on the widths of the field, but, much like the Terps in the first half, nobody could make any of their chances count.
Many of James Madison's shots were harmless efforts from far out, but their attack did have more teeth on a couple of occasions, notably after a missed clearance on a lobbed pass gave Kelly Kerrigan a good look at goal, but Egyed went to the ground on her right and saved the shot.
The teams were both pushing for a winner late, and the game opened back up. The Dukes nearly stole the game in the 86th, when Ashley Herndon collected a pass 30 yards from the net and had plenty of space all around her. Herndon struck her shot well, but hit the crossbar.
The game felt destined for overtime for much of the second half, and after Cassie Phillips' last-minute shot was saved with a dive from Forrest, that destiny was fulfilled.
In the 4th minute of overtime, Ashley Herndon avenged her late near-miss by slotting the ball into the net to the right of a diving Egyed. She was played through by Rachel Ivey, who started the chance when she dispossessed defender Kayla Shea, who was attempting to dribble out of danger. "I was a little too comfortable on the ball," Shea said, "I didn't pick my head up."
Although it was a mistake from the Terp defense that led to James Madison's game-winning goal, the offense shares the blame for the loss that drops Maryland to 4-3 on the season. "If you could give scores for the quality of your soccer between the 18s," head coach Jonathan Morgan said, "I think we would have won pretty big today.
"Inside the penalty area, we just weren't good enough."
It's a story all too familiar for Maryland women's soccer; the Terps could not capitalize on their chances. "We got behind them more than we have against any team this season," said Morgan, "there were more than enough opportunities to put this game away." The team had seemed to improved in that category this season, but took a step back against James Madison, evidenced by the accuracy of their shots. After putting 10 of 15 shots on goal in Texas, just 3 of their 14 shots Thursday were on frame.
As could be anticipated, the highly-touted Rachel Egyed played well. Egyed said she felt the pressure at times, but if that's true, she hid it well. "She was confident, she was talking a lot," said Shea. "She didn't get challenged too much," Morgan noted, "but I was happy with her." The future seems bright for the goalkeeper position at Maryland, but it doesn't appear the new era has started just yet; Beanlands is expected to be ready to play Sunday.
Maryland will hope to see improvements to their play on the ends of the field during their next match, Sunday against Yale. The matchup against the 2-2 Bulldogs serves as Maryland's final preparation before beginning conference play next Friday against Rutgers.