Being down 1-0 against George Washington did little to rattle Maryland women’s soccer Thursday evening.
Speeding down the right side of the field, forward Kori Locksley tried to make something happen by attempting to chip the ball between the legs of George Washington defender Cammie Dopke. Though it did not quite work that way, the ball pinged around the 18-yard box before midfielder Olivia Reese came in and blocked the Colonials’ clear attempt. The ball took a fortuitous bounce to forward Emily McNesby’s right foot, who blasted the ball right under a lunging George Washington goalkeeper Tamaki Machi. McNesby jumped straight in the air in elation, as her shot gave the Terps the 2-1 lead in the 33rd minute.
McNesby’s goal put the Terps in front and they never looked back, securing the 3-1 win and improving to 4-1-0 on the season.
“It was good from coming down a goal,” Maryland head coach Ray Leone said. “Their play tonight was much better. I think our rotations defensively weren’t there, and then we started to figure that out a lot better and it helped us, because we won a lot more balls and kept the ball better.”
Before kickoff, both teams observed a moment of silence in honor of the late Cincinnati women’s soccer player Ally Sidloski. The Terps sported a “We Play For 3” sign on the sideline, showing their love and support for Sidloski. Maryland’s Hope Lewandowski, Loren Sefcik and Brooke Weston all knew her from their youth playing days in Ohio.
A beautiful day in College Park, it was George Washington that began with possession.
Forward Mikayla Dayes earned the first shot of the game for either team, shooting it high and to the left of the net in the second minute. The teams traded possessions for a stretch of time after that, with neither side registering another shot until George Washington would strike first.
Less than ten minutes into the match, defender Margaret Rabbitt won a battle for possession against forward Keyera Wynn deep on Maryland’s side of the pitch. Quickly, midfielder Abby Mansoor settled possession for George Washington and passed the ball to forward Sophia Danyko-Kulchycky. From a few yards outside the 18-yard box, Danyko-Kulchycky took a couple of touches and fired a shot on net. The ball lofted precisely over a jumping Liz Brucia and into the back of the net, giving the Colonials an early 1-0 lead.
Maryland strung together a few good chances, recording the next four shots of the first half. In the 16th minute, Wynn had a sliding chance off a cross that went just wide of the net, while Dayes had two consecutive shots blocked just two minutes later.
The Terps were able to build off those efforts, as their persistence in fighting from behind would soon pay dividends.
In the 25th minute, Dayes, being manned by Navy defender Margaret Rabbit, made a superb play to lift the ball over everyone, forcing Machi to make a wobbling save. While she was able to block Dayes’ attempt, the ball trickled out to midfielder Hope Lewandowski, who was right inside the 6-yard box. Lewandowski took one touch, turned, and fired the ball towards the bottom left goal post. A flustered Machi laid out to get a piece of it, but the ball trickled past her and above the goal line, evening the game for the Terps.
“I did not think it was going in,” Lewandowski said. “I literally was screaming, ‘Get in! Get in!’ and I think I kind of manifested it to go in the back.”
For Maryland, the momentum would only continue to build more after its first goal.
It was McNesby’s goal, a product of Maryland’s relentless pursuit, that gave it the lead.
Maryland closed the half strong, putting up emphatic numbers despite conceding first. In addition to leading by one on the scoreboard, the Terps outshot the Colonials, 11-2.
Starting the second half right where they left off, the Terps recorded the first five shots of the first half, including a dangerous chance by Dayes speeding down the left side of the field.
Maryland earned its second corner kick of the match in the 56th minute, but could not generate any shots on goal after the ball bounced around the Colonials’ box, ultimately leading to a goal kick.
In the 67th minute, Maryland found itself in the perfect position to double its lead.
Midfielder Olivia Reese, from about ten yards outside the box, threaded the needle with a cross-field pass over defender Maggie Mockenhaupt to the feet of midfielder/defender Madison Oracion. Oracion took a touch with her left foot, changed directions to the right, and let go a line drive to the right of a helpless Machi. The goal extended Maryland’s lead to 3-1, solidifying its spot in the driver's seat with just over 20 minutes to play.
With thirteen minutes to play, the Colonials earned a dangerous free-kick opportunity from a few yards outside the box after a Lewandowski foul. Mockenhaupt, off the direct opportunity, rattled a shot off the post, putting Maryland’s two-goal lead in jeopardy for a brief moment.
In the last gasp for George Washington, forward Isabella Buck took a shot from outside of the box, forcing Brucia to make her first save of the day.
Maryland stomped out George Washington’s late surge, closing out a textbook second-half performance. The Terps bounced back smoothly from their loss against Navy and are heading into Sunday’s contest at Saint Joseph’s on a high note.
“This was the first chance to come, how do you rebound from a loss? They really came out strong and did a nice job tonight,” Leone said.
Three things to know
1. Even though it went down first, the Terps put together a strong first half. It has been par for the course for Maryland to get off to strong starts on the young season. While it looked glum for that trend to continue after allowing the first goal of the match, the Terps turned on the jets and began to dominate the next 35 minutes. Dayes rocketed five shots in the frame, almost half of the team’s 11. The Terps also welcomed early contributions from the bench, who recorded one goal, one assist and four shots combined in the first half.
2. Maryland continues to tinker with its lineups, and it is working. The Terps have put out five different starting lineups in five games. Forward Toni Domingos was suspended for Thursday’s game due to her late red card against Navy, while superstar forward Alyssa Poarch has still yet to play since the George Mason game.
Although it is partially due to certain players not being able to take the field, head coach Ray Leone has repetitively mentioned the versatility of the team. Different players, such as Lewandowski and McNesby, have moved all around the field, excelling in different positions. Midfielder Olivia Reese, who picked up two assists against the Colonials, made her season debut.
“It feels really good,” Reese said on her impressive night. “I’ve been waiting to play, so I’m excited that I could get two assists and we had a good game tonight.”
3. The Terps put forth another complete effort en route to the program’s best start since 2017. Even with the early George Washington goal, Maryland dominated the Colonials. The Terps outshot the Colonials, 22-7. Aside from its late free-kick chance, Danyko-Kulchycky’s goal was George Washington’s only shot on goal. Each team only had one corner kick, but the Terps dominated possession, giving George Washington few chances to climb back into this one in the second half. Sitting at 4-1-0, Maryland has its best record through five games since it went 4-0-1 four years ago.