Attempting to start 4-0 for the first time in eight years, the road would not be easy for Maryland women’s soccer against the Patriot League’s best in the Naval Academy.
Defender Chloe Dawson, dribbling about ten yards out from the penalty box, fired a pass on the move right into Maryland’s penalty box. Forward Alexa Riddle was speeding into the box when, with one motion, she received Dawson’s pass and chipped it perfectly into the back right corner of the goal and to the right of the diving Maryland goalkeeper Liz Brucia. The goal extended the Midshipmen’s lead to 3-1 with exactly 28 minutes to play.
Riddle’s goal was the cherry on top for the Midshipmen, as they defeated Maryland, 3-1, handing the Terps their first loss of the young season.
“We saw a lot of fight when we went down,” Maryland head coach Ray Leone said. “...Navy played extremely well, and we fought away back in there and just couldn’t get a goal.”
The Terps wasted absolutely no time getting ahead in this one. Forward Kori Locksley, hovering with possession around midfield, threaded a pass to forward Toni Domingos who accelerated further into Navy territory. Domingos switched feet, stopping on a dime, and swung the ball to forward Mikayla Dayes just above the penalty arc. Dayes moved to her left, crossing up midfielder Katie Hermann in the process, and buried the left foot shot with blazing speed into the bottom right corner of the net. Just 45 seconds in, Dayes gave Maryland a 1-0 lead.
“Honestly, I just got the ball and I saw an open gap, so I just took it, and then it went in my favor,” Dayes said.
Maryland continued to control the early going, but it was Navy that earned the game’s first corner kick in the eighth minute. The ball was pinged around the box and out, but Navy earned an ensuing corner kick opportunity. Liz Brucia provided the second straight denial for Navy, though, stepping up and securing the line drive kick on a fly.
Still in control 25 minutes in, the Terps had three shots to Navy’s zero. The Midshipmen had the game’s only two corners but had yet to threaten otherwise.
Despite having all four of the game’s shots in the 33rd minute, Navy was beginning to settle in, with six substitutions making an appearance.
One of those subs, forward Jeana Freeman, came through for the Midshipmen when they needed it most. Dawson dribbled around forward Zora Jackson — who played defender in this one — and towards the goal line. Dawson crossed the ball, a perfect pass right in front of the 6-yard box. The ball bounced once and off the feet of Freeman, directly over a lunging Brucia and into the back of the net. Freeman’s touch, the first shot of the game for Navy, evened the game at 1-1.
Less than three minutes later, the Terps responded with their first corner kick of the game. Mia Isaac sent a booming kick into the box, but defender Adalee Broadbent, searching for her second goal in as many games, headed the ball from the six-yard box just high over the net.
Still, Navy sustained some momentum from the goal in an effort to finish the half strongly. Dawson’s corner kick, the Mids’ third of the half, skied over the net without any threat.
The Terps earned their third corner kick in the 43rd minute. Mikayla Dayes’ shot went high, but controversy stirred as a handball was seemingly missed by the officials.
Both teams went to halftime with the score tied at one apiece. Maryland outshot the Midshipmen, 7-3, but it could not generate the chances to add another goal in the first 45 minutes.
Navy picked up the first couple shots in the first half in the 50th minute, a shot by Caitlin Doran which was blocked and a shot by Katie Hermann which was high.
In the 52nd minute with the ball deep in Maryland territory, the Terps had an opportunity to clear the ball. Forward Emily McNesby, trailing from the other side of the field, made an athletic play to get to the ball but could not make good contact with it. The ball trickled for a clear path opportunity for Doran, who kicked the ball of the glove of a sliding Brucia and into the back of the net to give Navy a 2-1 lead.
Only seconds later, the Terps had a great chance to respond as Locksley earned a takeaway in the penalty box. She swept the ball to Loren Sefcik, whose rifling left foot shot rattled right off the left post. Locksley had a rebound opportunity but was never fully in control as her shot flew high over the goal.
“That was a really good sign for our team,” Leone said about Sefcik’s shot. “To see that response to go end to end, holy mackerel...and if you get the goal, all the sudden, the game might totally flip.”
A suddenly desperate Maryland team was attempting to retake control of this one, firing off the next four shots, but its inability to add a quick second goal hurt in the second half.
Riddle’s goal extended Navy’s lead to two as the clock continued to wind down for the Terps.
“It’s obviously disappointing that we gave up those goals,” Broadbent said. “...All in all we just need to keep our head high and move on to the next game...these are honestly, what, four goals that we’ve given up in the past four games? So, we’re on the right track, we just got to keep it up.”
Just over five minutes later, midfielder Hope Lewandowski had a decent chance from in close to cut the deficit to one, but a diving Gallagher was able to get a piece of it, letting it trickle by her before ultimately coming up with her third save of the day.
Navy continued to play well on the offensive end, earning its fourth corner kick of the match in the 75th minute. Riddle had a chance to pick up her second goal of the day, but her header went right off the crossbar.
Maryland earned only its third corner kick of the game in the 77th minute, plays that the Midshipmen conceded often in three games thus far, but could not generate a shot on the play.
As Maryland’s hopes were starting to dwindle, Mikayla Dayes put together a solid scoring opportunity in the 84th minute. Her fourth shot of the game had some velocity heading towards the net, but Gallagher was right there to make the save.
All chances ran out for Maryland as Domingos, racing towards the net, collided with Gallagher in the 87th minute. Unfortunately for Domingos, it was her second yellow card of the match, sending her off the pitch and forcing the Terps to play 10 players against Navy’s 11.
Time ran out for the Terps as they could not put together their second unlikely comeback in a row on the weekend. At the halfway point of its nonconference schedule, Maryland stands with a record of 3-1.
Three things to know
1. Maryland got off to its third strong start in four games, but could not sustain it for the rest of the first half. The key to the Terps’ first two wins over Temple and George Mason were fast starts. In both games combined, Maryland outshot its opponents, 23-4, and outscored them, 3-0. This seemed to be the case through the majority of the first half, as the Terps were up 1-0 and held a 4-0 shot advantage before Freeman’s goal. The goal allowed Navy to build some momentum going into halftime, not only tying the game but firing off two more shots in the minutes after.
2. Despite the loss, Maryland outshot Navy by a significant amount. Even though the Terps earned the loss in Sunday’s match, they had plenty of opportunities to pick up more than one goal. Maryland outshot Navy, 19-11, and without a couple of bounces here and there, the game easily could have went Maryland’s way. While the result did not work out in Maryland’s favor, it still played a pretty complete game on the offensive side of the ball, firing off seven shots in the first half and 12 shots in the second half.
“19 shots is enough to score two, and we didn’t get that done, but the effort was there,” Leone said.
3. Maryland was without Alyssa Poarch for the second straight game. Against Richmond this past Thursday, the Terps were able to complete an impressive comeback win despite missing their leading goal scorer and best offensive player. Despite missing one of the team’s prior three games, Poarch led the Terps in every single major offensive category. Leone initially pinned her absence against Richmond due to “load management,” as the star player missed her second straight game and was not in uniform on the sideline.