Despite turning in dominant stretches of soccer early in the second half, Maryland women’s soccer again found itself searching for the game-winner in the game’s final minutes.
In the 56th minute, forward Mikayla Dayes beat the Nebraska defense deep as she received midfielder Catherine DeRosa’s pass as she was striding into the box. Dayes had a perfect cross to the right foot of midfielder Loren Sefcik, who was just a couple of yards out from the 6-yard box. Sefcik’s shot flew high, though, and the game remained scoreless.
It was arguably the best look the Terps had all night in the middle of a strong flurry, but it could not be the difference-maker in the long run. Maryland and Nebraska tied 0-0, as the Terps earned their first result of the Big Ten season.
“We got to get a goal,” Maryland head coach Ray Leone said. “It’s not just a goal, but you got to get chances to make the goalkeeper make saves, and I don’t think we did hardly any of that tonight.”
Star forward Alyssa Poarch was welcomed back to the starting lineup, having not played since Aug. 22 at George Mason. The graduate student was tied for the team lead in goals entering the game, despite only playing 130 minutes.
After a series of nine Nebraska throw-ins during the first three minutes, the Terps turned the ball upfield and earned the first chance of the game exactly four minutes in. Midfielder Loren Sefcik had a great feed to a striding Kori Locksley, but the forward’s shot was cut short after goalkeeper Samantha Hauk charged out to make the save.
Maryland’s defense started strong, holding the Huskers without a shot for nearly the first 15 minutes. It was then when midfielder/forward Theresa Pujado placed one on the right side of the net, forcing goalkeeper Liz Brucia to make a diving save.
The Cornhuskers almost jumped out to a lead in the 25th minute with its second shot of the game. Forward Eleanor Dale launched a header from a few yards inside the 18-yard box which flew over Brucia and hit the inside of the post and trickled out. It would have been some goal from Dale, whose attempt was from a significant distance.
Just under two minutes after substituting into the game, forward Toni Domingos was hit with a yellow card, her fourth card of the season.
Following a nifty play off a free kick between midfielder Catherine DeRosa and defender Mia Isaac, Maryland earned back-to-back corner kicks. Although it could not record any shots on the sequence, Maryland gathered some momentum from it.
The Terps continued to play well, as Domingos beat Nebraska’s defense and found herself alone just outside the 18-yard box in the 37th minute. Domingos made a sparkling play, heading the ball to herself, but her chip attempt went wide right of the net.
Nebraska forward/midfielder Allison Napora was handed a corresponding yellow card in the 41st minute.
The first 45 minutes wrapped up scoreless, but they were not without any action. There were 10 fouls and two yellow cards, while the Terps outshot the Huskers, 5-2.
As expected, goalkeeper Madeline Smith replaced Brucia in net to start the second frame. Leone indicated this would be the move earlier this week.
“We literally have nothing to worry about when it comes to back there,” defender Malikae Dayes said on the Brucia-Smith tandem.
Nebraska earned its first corner kick of the game in the 51st minute, but it was curved right over the crossbar before anything could happen.
On her fourth shot of the night, Locksley was so close to giving the Terps the lead in the 53rd minute. The forward took a touch away from two Nebraska defenders and launched one from the top of the box with her left foot, but it sailed high over the net.
The momentum continued to string together for the Terps. Sefcik’s chance was a great attempt for Maryland that ultimately did not fall.
“At times we got the ball out wide and did well with it,” Leone said. “I think that they were jumping that pass so hard that we were having to come too deep to get it so we have to show that on tape and see, you know, maybe you can make a different choice.”
The pressure kept building on the Huskers, as Poarch’s shot that was blocked in the 59th minute was already Maryland’s fifth in the half. With 30 minutes left to play, the Terps were dominating.
However, both teams hit a bit of a wall following Maryland’s strong stretch, as the number of shots from both sides significantly slowed down.
In the 75th minute, midfielder Florence Bezile was fouled a few yards outside the box, leading to a dangerous free-kick. Defender Grace Brown rifled one on net, forcing Smith to make a save, tipping the ball over the net. An ensuing corner kick did not lead to anything for the Huskers, but they were starting to generate something for the first time in the second half.
With the game moving towards overtime, Nebraska earned a corner kick with just under three minutes in regulation. The Maryland defense cleared the ball with ease, and extra time was beginning to look more like a certainty than a possibility.
Nebraska its sixth corner kick of the game in the final minute of regulation, and defender Olivia Brown almost won it off the service. The ball was placed perfectly for a Brown header, but her attempt went just wide of the left crossbar.
That was the final chance in regulation for either time, as the game headed to overtime.
Locksley made a few dazzling moves, changing directions multiple times before eventually earning a corner kick for the Terps in the 96th minute. The ball stood still in the middle of all the action for a couple of moments, but Maryland could not get a shot off, and the ball was cleared.
It was Sefcik, sliding into the attempt, who earned the only shot of overtime for either team in the 99th minute. The play led to a Terps’ corner kick with 80 seconds left in the period, but Catherine DeRosa’s service was knocked away by Hauk. It was the last chance for both teams before double overtime commenced.
Nebraska earned its first shot in extra time in the 105th minute. Forward/midfielder Sarah Weber was running towards the net with possession and just barely got off a shot, but Smith made the easy save.
The Terps quickly responded as Dayes was inches away from having the dagger in the 107th minute. With finesse, Dayes blew by a Nebraska defender, and her blast went right over the crossbar, nearly nicking it.
A response from Nebraska was soon orchestrated, as it earned a corner kick in the 108th minute. Midfielder/defender Ashley Zugay’s service missed the back post and hit a head, but it never found its way on net.
Maryland outshot Nebraska 15-10, but could not find the goal they needed despite its performance.
“Thank goodness we played a lot of players today because if we just threw out 13 players today it would be a heck of a tough time for us on Sunday,” Leone said. “So we threw out a lot of players today and they all played very hard and that was huge, especially going 110.”
Three things to know
1. It was a physical first half for both teams. The first 45 minutes definitely set the tone for the physicality in this one. Nebraska was tabbed with seven fouls in the frame, while the Terps were charged with three. The yellow cards handed to Domingos and Napora were a reflection of the style being played and how the referees were dealing with it. Overall, the Terps got the better of the Huskers in the first half, outshooting them 5-2 and controlling 62% of the possession.
“It’s extremely disappointing for us,” DeRosa said. “Obviously, we’re still looking for our first Big Ten win of the season, but there were a lot of positive things to take away from this game.”
2. Maryland earned huge reinforcements ahead of tonight’s game. The impact of Poarch’s return cannot be understated. The graduate student is only two years removed from Second Team All-Big Ten honors and was the team’s most electric offensive player in the first two non-conference games. Her return gives the Terps another element of speed on the offensive end. Forward Emily McNesby, who was also tied for the team lead in goals heading into tonight, also saw action off the bench for the first time since Sept. 2.
“She’ll get stronger with every game,” Leone said. “Yes, we were thrilled to have her back and a fantastic player...she’s not just a fantastic player, she’s a big personality on our team, so it lifts the personality and energy of our team when she’s out there.”
3. Playing down to the wire has become the norm for Maryland. Thursday’s contest marked the fourth time in five games where the score was tied entering the 89th minute. It was the Terps’ third overtime game in that stretch, with the other result being the last-minute loss to Ohio State. All three overtime games have ended in draws for the Terps, and while points are great, Maryland probably feels it should have and could have won this one.