Maryland lost a heartbreaker Sunday, surrendering a golden goal to Illinois with just a little over two minutes to play in double overtime. The Terps had fought back and equalized after Illinois scored in the eighth minute, but still failed to secure their first point in conference play.
The game started a bit sloppy from both sides, with subpar passing and defending that didn't look much better. However, one area Illinois was doing a great job of applying pressure was high on the field, where they caused some passing miscues from keeper Rachelle Beanlands and the rest of the Maryland backline.
None of the passing mistakes from Beanlands directly came back to bite the Terrapins, but Illinois did get on the board early thanks to a spectacular Nicole Breece throw in. Breece uses a front flip to generate power for her throws, turning throw-ins into another set piece thanks to the distance on them. Her eighth-minute throw-in from 30 yards out essentially reached the near post, where it found the foot of freshman Katie Murray.
Murray's touch moved the ball away from goal, but the spin on the ball brought it back to her, and she finished cleanly from six yards out. After the goal, Maryland upped their pressure and started to create some opportunities for themselves. In the 12th minute, they nearly got to the Illini when Alex Anthony played a ball forward for Gabby Galanti. An Illinois defender beat her to the ball and appeared to play a backpass to goalkeeper Claire Wheatley, who picked the ball up. The referees must have not seen the pass as intentional, as they didn't call Wheatley for illegal touching and grant the Terrapins an indirect free kick.
Ironically, an indirect free kick off an illegal touching is how the Illini scored against Rachelle Beanlands and the Terrapins last season.
Alex Anthony had a chance in front of goal later during the half off a corner, but she shot high. Lisa Bianchini replaced Anthony with about 10 minutes to play, and made her presence felt with a 43rd minute shot from a very tight angle. It may have been a cross that went awry, but it turned into Wheatley's second save of the day. Wheatley also punched out a cross off the ensuing throw in.
Gabby Galanti took the first two of Maryland's five first-half shots, both within the opening five minutes of the game. Illinois took four shots in the half, and didn't look terribly threatening for most of it, but did cause Beanlands to make some plays on crosses and passes forward.
Alex Anthony had another good chance in the 52nd minute off a Madison Turner pass that put the ball on her foot in front of the near post, but she couldn't get around the shot, and pushed it wide. She would get her chance at redemption five minutes later.
Kate Waters played a beautiful ball forward to Anthony, who timed her run perfectly and got to it just outside the 18-yard box. She took a shot first time, but it was saved by a charging Wheatley. The two then collided, and their legs were entangled and prevented both Anthony and Wheatley from getting up. The ref granted a penalty kick, and issued Wheatley a yellow card.
The sophomore took the penalty well, putting the ball in the very top of the net, and giving the Terrapins an equalizer.
Both teams looked much more consistently dangerous in the second half than the first, though the shot counts didn't change drastically. Midfielder Sarah Molina took a long shot that was deflected and saved by a diving Wheatley in the 75th minute. The Illini had a clean header off a corner in the 80th, but the shot sailed above the net and likely would have been saved anyway.
Illinois also had some near-misses as the result of faux-corners started by Breece's flip throws.
Anthony spearheaded a few attacks with about five minutes left in the half, taking three shots and making a cross that was just a bit off target. The Terps did nothing with either of the corners earned off Anthony's first two shots, the first of which was saved, and the second blocked.
Riley Barger took a yellow card in the 87th minute, and the Illini had another clear header after the ensuing free kick, but Beanlands dove and secured the ball, which may have been going wide anyway.
The first ten minutes of overtime were uneventful, with Illinois taking only one shot, and Maryland besting that with two. Maisie McCune's 92nd minute effort was blocked, and Anthony's shot from distance six minutes later reached Wheatley on a bounce.
Both teams had some space to work with, and had the service been slightly improved, there would have been some more dangerous looks at goal.
McCune nearly won the game for the Terrapins in the 104th minute with a long left-footed shot, but the shot was just wide right. Natasha Ntone-Kouo also had a very real chance, but her shot from a harsh angle was saved by Wheatley.
Twice, Beanlands caught Illini free kicks on the fly taken from around midfield, and she also caught a Breece throw-in. However, she couldn't stop Breece's 108th minute header that snuck in past the far post and gave the Illini the golden goal 2-1 win. The assist came from defender Hope D'Addario, who blasted the ball forward from just in front of midfield. Breece headed it from about 10 yards in front of goal, and she didn't put much power on the ball, bouncing on the way into the net, but it was perfectly placed and beat the diving Beanlands.
Maryland falls to 5-6 on the season, and 0-3 in conference. They host Michigan (7-4, 2-1) Thursday at 7 PM before welcoming Michigan State (6-1-3, 2-0-1) to Ludwig Field on Sunday at 3 PM. Both games will be televised on the Big Ten Network.