In the 30th minute of the Maryland women’s soccer match, midfielder Malikae Dayes sent a free kick to the other half of the field. Jumping in the air, forward Alyssa Poarch flicked a header past Michigan State’s center backs to midfielder Loren Sefcik.
With two defenders draped on both sides of her, Sefcik sent a right-footed ball past a diving Spartan goalkeeper Loren Kozal to give the Terrapins their first and only goal of the night.
Sefcik’s second goal in as many games gave Maryland a 1-0 win over Michigan State and earned her team a spot in its first-ever Big Ten Tournament.
The nine-win Terrapins secured a postseason berth with the victory — the highest win total since joining the Big Ten conference and the most since the 2013 season.
Although the Spartans came into Thursday’s game in last place in the Big Ten, a win on the road for the Terrapins was anything but easy. Michigan State was 6-2 heading into the match against Maryland — with its only conference win coming on its own campus.
The victory in East Lansing is just the second in the last two years that Maryland earned away from College Park. The only other road win in 2019 came against then-No. 20 Rutgers on Sept. 28.
The Terrapins and Spartans got off to a slow start in Thursday’s matchup with each team getting of just eight total shots in the first 45 minutes. One of three shots on goal in the period landed in the back of the net for Maryland.
Michigan State controlled the ball in the first period, but six offside calls halted any scoring opportunities it created.
The second half, however, began as a shooting spree for both teams. The Terrapins tallied two shots on goal in the first three minutes while the Spartans earned one of their own.
Michigan State led the game in shots with 11 compared to Maryland’s eight, six of which were on goal. But a cool and collected Terrapin defense, led by goalkeeper Erin Seppi, handled each and every Spartan shot, keeping them without a goal in East Lansing.
Three things to know:
1. It’s time to celebrate in College Park. The Terrapins earned their first Big Ten postseason berth with Thursday’s win. After five years finishing close to the bottom of the conference, Maryland now has a chance to make a tournament push against the Big Ten’s best teams. With the rest of the weekend ahead, the Terrapins’ seed in the tournament is still yet to be determined.
2. Ray Leone does it again. In his fourth season at the helm for Maryland, Leone has finally completed his program rebuild. The Terrapins are the sixth team that he has been the head coach of — each of which he led to at least one postseason appearance. Even though the Leone-led Terrapins have one game remaining, the team’s nine wins are the most since joining the Big Ten conference.
3. Erin Seppi continues to dominate - After winning her second Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Week on Tuesday, Seppi earned her sixth shutout of the season. Maryland’s last line of defense has allowed just one goal in the team’s last three games. Seppi’s senior season is her first as a starter, and with the four saves against Michigan State, she sunk her goals against average under 1.50 per game.