For the first time in school history, Maryland women’s soccer is Big Ten Tournament bound. The team will take on No. 20 Michigan on Sunday in the tournament’s first round in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Sunday.
The Terrapins, seeded sixth in the tournament, is coming off a match against the Wolverines exactly seven days prior to the postseason matchup with the same team. In that showing, however, the Terrapins fell 4-1 and registered just two shots.
“We have to defend better, we can’t let up four goals,” coach Ray Leone said. “We can’t go down two goals at halftime, we just can’t do that.”
The Terrapins went into that match coming off a tournament-clinching win over Michigan State, where they defeated the Spartans 1-0 on the road. The victory turned a postseason dream into reality as now Maryland has a chance to keep its underdog season alive.
“There was definitely a lot of emotion,” forward Alyssa Poarch said. “To be able to fight that hard and get a win out of it, it was really beneficial to our season.”
No. 20 Michigan Wolverines (13-4-1, 8-2-1 Big Ten)
The Wolverines ended their regular season campaign as the third-ranked team in the conference. Eight players earned All-Big Ten Honors, which is the most the program has seen since 2012.
Michigan has been tough to beat at home this year, dropping just two matches out of 10 played in Ann Arbor. In their last matchup, the Wolverines took down Maryland in blowout fashion, posting four goals and conceding just one with seven minutes remaining.
Players to know
Sarah Stratigakis, junior midfielder No. 8 - As one of the best players in the conference, Stratigakis was named the Big Ten Midfielder of the Year on Thursday. The Ontario native finished the regular season with a team-high 21 points, coming from six goals and nine assists. Stratigakis was also named to the All-Big Ten First Team, following Second Team honors in her freshman and sophomore seasons.
Alia Martin, junior defender No. 4 - Martin joined Stratigakis on the All-Big Ten First Team when the conference announced the awards. The junior appeared in 16 games this season at center back for the Wolverines. Her performances led to five shutouts for the team this season.
Hillary Beall, junior goalkeeper No. 1 - Michigan’s last line of defense was another starter to earn conference honors. Beall was named to the All-Big Ten Third Team for her performances in 18 games, where she posted a .795 save percentage and allowed just 15 goals.
Three things to watch
1. Can Alyssa Poarch make a difference? Maryland’s leading scorer was the only Terrapin to earn Big Ten Honors. Poarch was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team on Thursday for her eight goals in 19 appearances. If the junior can get out in the open field, Maryland can jump out in front on the road in a must-win game.
“When Alyssa is on the field, she’s always a threat,” Leone said. “Something’s going to happen, she’s done really well this year, I’m really proud of her.”
2. How well-rested with both teams be? For the first time all season, both Maryland and Michigan have a full seven days off in-between games. With the regular season demanding two games a week, players aren’t given the opportunity to rest and prepare for each game, but in the postseason, the Terrapins have much more team to get ready for the Wolverines.
“Being able to have a full week off and a full week of training is really beneficial for us,” Poarch said. “It’s a new season, if we lose we’re done.”
3. What can Maryland take from last game? Going into Sunday’s game, Maryland knows exactly what to expect. Having played against Michigan in their last game, the Terrapins know the conditions and the style of play they will be going up against. Although the team only registered two shots in the loss, they have all the tools now to pull something off on the road.
“It’s to our advantage,” goalkeeper Erin Seppi said. “We know what they’re field is like, we know what the travel is like. We’re prepared to take on any team.”