Facing the potent offensive attack of the reigning Big Ten Tournament champions in Iowa would be a tough task for Maryland women’s soccer in its conference opener Thursday night.
From deep in Iowa territory, midfielder Addie Bundy launched a pass into the attacking third. The pass bounced twice before midfielder Hailey Rydberg beat the entire Maryland team to it in the 34th minute. Rydberg took one touch with her right foot, allowing her to move to the left and evade two Maryland defenders. From there, she dribbled right into the penalty arc and blasted one with her left foot. It was a beauty, rocketing past goalkeeper Madeline Smith to give the Hawkeyes a 1-0 lead.
Rydberg’s goal would wind up as the game-winner for Iowa, as it snapped a two-game losing streak and defeated Maryland 2-0.
“They fought hard, they did really good things,” Maryland head coach Ray Leone said. “It’s frustrating. [There’s] just no other way of saying it. It’s frustrating and I feel for our team in a big way.”
The Terps earned the first couple chances on the road, as forward Toni Domingos got the first shot of the game in the second minute with a header, forcing Iowa goalkeeper Monica Wilhelm to make the save. Just over one minute later, Maryland registered the night’s first corner kick, but Iowa was able to turn it away.
Domingos continued her good start, firing one on net with her left foot in the 9th minute. Wilhelm made a diving save to give the Terps another corner, which would also be averted.
Iowa forward Kenzie Roling registered her second — and the Hawkeyes’ second — shot of the game from just inside the 18-yard box in the 18th minute. Roling’s lefty shot skied right of the net, as Smith, making her first Maryland start, was still untested nearly 20 minutes in.
Despite still not having a shot on goal, Roling’s play helped the Hawkeyes string together some momentum. Iowa got its first corner kick of the game in the 23rd minute after a good sliding defensive play by defender Malikae Dayes, but Smith caught the service before anyone else could get a body on it.
Smith made her first save in the 30th minute, but it was a deep bouncing shot from Rydberg that she barely had to move for before securing the ball.
“We’re just trying to keep them fresh,” Leone said on the goalkeepers and Smith, who played the full game. “So, we will pretty much start Liz on Sunday and do the same thing.”
However, Iowa was now in control of this one, and the tide would soon change.
Rydberg’s goal off the brilliant pass from Bundy put the Hawkeyes in front after a slow start.
Forward Alyssa Walker nearly doubled the lead less than two minutes after, but her dribbling shot from the left side inched just right of the goal post.
The Hawkeyes continued to dictate the rest of the half, holding the Terps to only two shots in the entire half. Iowa led 1-0 at halftime but was in full control with 45 minutes to play.
The second half commenced with Maryland jumping out fast, earning a corner kick in the 47th minute. Midfielder Tori Paul had a solid service, but Iowa cleared the zone with a header.
Paul continued to contribute with a dangerous free-kick chance in the 55th minute. She sent in a shot from deep, and it looked to be right on target. Wilhelm appeared to jump back and tip the ball over the net for the save, but the officials saw otherwise. Instead of another Maryland corner kick, the Hawkeyes had a goal kick.
“She did well, she worked hard, she was creative,” Leone said about Paul. “You know, so we finally got a corner kick when she was on the field and she’s very good at that. So that part was promising.”
Just one minute later in aggressive pursuit of the ball, Domingos received a yellow card after an attempted slide tackle. It was Domingos’ fifth card of the season, which leads the team.
Regardless, Maryland continued to attack, and Paul rifled her second shot towards the middle of the net in the 59th minute, but Wilhelm made her third save.
In the 62nd minute, defender Miah Schueller received a corresponding yellow card after some hard physical contact.
“It’s frustrating to have 18 fouls against us and only one card,” Leone said. “Because basically everyone’s just grabbing them every time they get the ball. And they’re fighting off of it so strongly that you can’t even tell it’s a foul, but it is. It looks like it’s a water polo game.”
Twenty minutes into the half, it was Maryland that seemed to be in charge, holding Iowa without a shot in the frame.
Midfielder/forward Maggie Johnston nearly extinguished all of Maryland’s momentum in the 67th minute, but her header shot — Iowa’s first of the half — went wide left of Smith.
Johnston’s shot seemed to steal what Maryland had going, as Iowa earned consecutive corner kicks by the 71st minute. Johnston added another shot off the first corner, while Rydberg added two more, one on each. Suddenly, Iowa was in control again, and it was déjà vu from the first half.
With about 12 minutes to play, Maryland had an opportunity to strike. Forward Kori Locksley let go a cross intended for the head of forward Mikayla Dayes, but the ball went past her, and a mix-up in the box eventually led to Iowa possession.
Time continued to wind down for Maryland, as it was running out of chances late in the game.
Forward Anna Carazza lofted a shot towards the crossbar of defender Olivia Hicks’ free kick in the 83rd minute, but it went just left of the post.
Iowa would finally put the icing on the cake with only five minutes to play.
Defender Sara Wheaton floated a deep pass into the attacking third, finding forward Alyssa Walker. The graduate transfer from Richmond put on the brakes, and made a sensational move, crossing up Hicks and moving towards Smith. All alone in front of the net, Walker booted one with her right foot past Smith and into the right corner of the net, giving Iowa the 2-0 lead.
“Everyone knows that when you’re down a goal and only minutes to go you have to risk,” Leone said. “So we went a 3-5-2, pushed everybody forward, and it bounced perfectly for them and that’s it.”
Maryland earned a corner in the 89th minute, but it could not record a shot, and the clock dwindled to three zeros. The Terps were shut out, getting outshot 13-7, and fell to 0-2-2 in Big Ten play.
Three things to know
1. Maryland kept Iowa in check for most of the first half, but the Hawkeyes changed course. Heading into Thursday night, Iowa was sporting a pristine offensive attack. The Hawkeyes were top-three in the Big Ten in both shots on goal and shots on goal per game. For the first 30 minutes, the Terps’ defense was impeccable, holding Iowa to only three and none on goal. That would change after Rydberg’s first shot, and she soon scored after. By halftime, Maryland was being outshot 6-2 and did not record a shot in the half’s final 36 minutes.
2. The Terps were missing Alyssa Poarch. Maryland welcomed back its star forward with open arms just one week ago today. Poarch, arguably Maryland’s best offensive player and leading goal scorer, had not played since Aug. 22 against George Mason and made her way back from a seven-game absence for the second game of Big Ten play. However, Poarch exited prematurely against Northwestern on Sunday, limping off the field, but under her own power. It was unclear whether she would play against the Hawkeyes during the week, but ultimately she did not.
3. The first and second halves unfolded in very similar ways. In the first half, Maryland earned the first two shots on goal of the game and held the Hawkeyes without one until the 30th minute. In the second half, Maryland earned the first three shots of the period and held Iowa without one until the 67th minute.
It was definitely a success for the Terps to stave off the electric Iowa offense for that long, but they hit a wall in both halves, allowing Iowa to take control after a significant amount of time passed in each. In reality, it was the Hawkeyes’ defense that stood strong, becoming a wall and adjusting to Maryland’s attack in each half.
“It’s very disappointing,” Leone said. “We’ve played some good soccer, a lot of possession, defended well. You know, once chance when opportunistic and we just, on the other end of the stick. It’s unfortunate.”