In control for most of the game, Maryland women’s soccer seemed well on its way to its first Big Ten victory in two years.
Following forward Olivia Stone’s missed header in the 88th minute, the Terps were wasting time deep in Northwestern’s corners, and the game appeared to be all but officially over. However, Northwestern came down the field and responded in extraordinary fashion in the final minute of regulation. It was Stone, deep in the right corner of Maryland territory, that rifled a cross that dribbled past the entire Terps’ defense. Waiting alone in front of the goal was midfielder Francesca Docters, who buried the ball in the right corner of the net with just 24 seconds to play.
Docters’ goal was all Northwestern could get, but it extended the game another 20 minutes. The Wildcats were likely thrilled, securing the 1-1 draw in a major surprise.
“Their performance was at a high level, probably the highest level we’ve played in five years,” Maryland head coach Ray Leone said. “I’m very proud of them to do that after an overtime game and really push the envelope pretty much throughout the game.”
Before kickoff, the Terps honored Mikayla Hirsch, their Team IMPACT teammate, in an awesome “graduation day” ceremony.
Northwestern earned the game’s first corner kick in the third minute, leading to the game’s first shot, which went high right off the foot of defender Emma Phillips.
The Terps quickly responded with some offense in the fifth minute, as defender Mia Isaac forced Northwestern goalkeeper Mackenzie Wood to make her first save following forward Alyssa Poarch’s blocked shot.
Poarch’s second shot of the game nearly bounced in off a dangerous free kick in the 13th minute, but Wood laid out to make a clutch diving save. Poarch, whose opportunity was probably the best of the half for either side, appeared to be looking more like herself in her second game since returning from a seven-game absence.
Maryland earned its first corner kick after another Poarch shot in the 27th minute. Midfielder Catherine DeRosa had a phenomenal service into the 6-yard box, but Wood made the leaping catch before the Terps could register a shot.
Not much else was going for either team to end the half, as both teams went into the locker rooms scoreless. Regardless, it was a solid half for Maryland. Not only did Poarch generate some chances, but the defense looked strong, holding the Wildcats without a shot on goal.
“There was good spacing,” Leone said on the offense. “Good ball movement, good spacing. I mean, it looked like the game was fun today.”
The second half began as the Terps once again substituted goalkeeper Madeline Smith in for starting goalkeeper Brucia, who was mainly untested in the first half.
Controlling possession for pretty much the whole game, the Terps finally were able to get something to show for it.
Following a great defensive play by defender Zora Jackson in the 53rd minute, Poarch received a pass from Sefcik just around the center circle. Immediately after feeding Poarch, Sefcik sprinted past the Northwestern defense and into the 18-yard box. Controlling possession, Poarch was being manned tightly by midfielder Roman Lapi. With her left foot, Poarch let go of a pass that trickled by the entire Wildcats defense and found the right boot of Sefcik. With one touch, Sefcik tapped the ball past a sliding Mackenzie Wood to put the Terps in front by one.
“[Poarch] and I were working really well in the midfield, or like, up top together,” Sefcik said. “...We just need to string those facets together and we ended up finding one in the back of the net.”
Trying to come up with a response, the Wildcats finally earned their first shot on goal in the 57th minute. Midfielder Chloe McGee fired one for Northwestern, but Smith was able to make the easy save.
With just over 20 minutes to play, defender Malikae Dayes was handed a yellow card for kicking the ball away before a Wildcats’ free-kick. Still, the Wildcats were running out of time to make something happen.
Midfielder Regan Steigleder had Northwestern’s second shot on goal in the 72nd minute, but Smith was in a great position to make her second save. Just one minute later, Phillips was handed the game’s second yellow card as time continued to tick for Northwestern.
Ludwig Field went silent in the 78th minute in a scary situation for the Terps. Poarch, who just recently returned for the Terps, was down on the field for a few moments. The star forward limped off the field under her own power, but it would be a devastating blow for her if she were to miss more time.
Forward Mikayla Dayes almost doubled the Terps’ lead in the 85th moment with a blast from near the 18-yard box, but it went off target. Coincidentally to her sister’s card in the 70th minute, Mikayla Dayes was handed a yellow card of her own for the same reason.
Stone’s chance in the 88th minute seemed to be the last one for the Wildcats, but it was her beautiful assist on Docters’ final-minute goal that evened the score.
Out of nowhere, the game was tied and destined for overtime. Northwestern had captured all of the momentum that the Terps were riding for most of the game.
Northwestern registered the first shot in extra time, as defender Marianna Annest was close to giving the Wildcats the golden goal victory in the 95th minute. Her header went to the bottom of the net, but Smith was there to make the save.
In the 98th minute, Mikayla Dayes was fouled hard just over midfield, leading to a yellow card on Roman Lapi. The Terps’ deep free kick went into the box, but nothing threatening was able to come from it.
Annest’s shot was the only shot of the first overtime, as the game headed to a second overtime.
Maryland had the first chance in double overtime with forward Anna Carazza’s shot. Wood barely had to move though, making the save in the center of the net.
Time paused with just under two minutes to play when forward Ella Haase was tabbed with a yellow card, the game’s fifth. Even with that, the Terps could not do anything off the free-kick.
The game wrapped up with a 1-1 draw and the Terps sitting at 0-1-1 in Big Ten play.
“I think it’s a growth,” Leone said on the draw. “Because we had a similar situation last year at Purdue that was gutting, and then we lost on one kick over the top...so for us to fight through that today, the growth of this team’s mentality.”
Three things to know
1. The Terps’ offense took steps from the Nebraska game in the first half. In Maryland’s 0-0 draw against the Cornhuskers Thursday, it only generated three shots on goal in 110 minutes. In the first 45 minutes of Sunday’s match against the Wildcats, the Terps recorded four shots on goal, surpassing that total. Though it could not record a goal in the frame, its offense looked more electric and free-flowing, controlling 63% of possession. Any offensive success for Maryland starts with its star player in Poarch, who nearly put in the first goal early on.
2. Loren Sefcik was outstanding for Maryland. The Medina, Ohio product played further up than usual today, getting some minutes at striker for the Terps. Leone’s move paid dividends, as her goal was ultimately the difference-maker in Sunday’s game. Leone has consistently moved players all over the field this season due to their versatility, and Sefcik today was just another example of that. Sefcik is now tied for the team lead with two goals, both of which were game-winners.
“My true position, I guess, is attacking-mid and center forward,” Sefcik said. “...It’s nice to actually get back into making opportunities up top and trying my best to get a goal.”
3. It was a heartbreaking outcome for the Terps. Despite gaining a point, Maryland definitely has to feel it let a victory slip away. The Terps were just seconds away from their first Big Ten victory in 703 days, but that all disappeared in an instance. Even though it conceded in the last minute of the game, it was still a complete performance for the Terps, who probably deserved to win this one. Maryland leaves its opening Big Ten three-game homestand with two points in three games.
“They got to put this heartbreak behind us quickly” Leone said. “Because if they don’t, we’re not gonna have [what we want to do]. But the performance, you can’t take that away. The performance was phenomenal.”