The losses keep piling on and postseason aspirations continue to slip for Maryland women’s soccer with just three games left in the regular season.
Sitting at 2-7-5 with just one conference win that came almost a month ago, the Terps look to rebound as they take on Minnesota Sunday afternoon.
The sixth straight loss for the Terps was an embarrassing one, and they’ll need to quickly recover from it as they head home for the final game of the season at Ludwig Field.
Ohio State scored just 32 seconds in and would go on to score three more times in the opening 12 minutes.
Down 5-0 at the half, Maryland found itself in an insurmountable hole, and would go on to lose 7-0, a margin of defeat not seen since 1993.
Head coach Meg Ryan Nemzer will look to prevent a seventh straight loss and stop her team’s bleeding against the Golden Gophers at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The home finale will be available for streaming on Big Ten Plus.
Minnesota Golden Gophers (6-7-2, 2-4-1 Big Ten)
2021 record: 8-6-3 (4-6 Big Ten)
A team that has hovered over the .500 mark the past couple seasons, Minnesota finds itself in a similar position this season, currently sitting right on the bubble for the Big Ten tournament.
Coming off an impressive draw against No. 8 Rutgers, the Gophers will look to carry that momentum into College Park. They are a team without much firepower on either side of the ball that thrives on possession and competitiveness. In its games against ranked opponents, Minnesota has held the lead for well over 50% of the time.
In her second year at the helm, head coach Erin Chastain has seen a slight dip in performance from her team. Despite not making the postseason, she guided Minnesota to an impressive 8-6-3 record in her first season. This year got off to a rough start in an incredibly tough nonconference schedule, but a competitive showing in a top-heavy Big Ten has left Minnesota controlling its own destiny for a postseason appearance.
With the bottom three seeds in the conference still up for grabs, a win against the Terps, one of the teams chasing the Gophers, would be crucial.
Players to know
Gabbie Cesarone, graduate defender, No. 12 — Transferring from Washington University in St. Louis, Cesarone was named the best defender in all of Division III last year, while being a First Team All-American. She’s had no trouble adjusting to the fiercer competition, being a namestay on the back line all season. Cesarone is the reigning Big Ten Defender of the Week after netting her fourth goal of the season from the center back position. This past Thursday, she scored her fifth goal and fourth headed tally of the season. Her five goals lead all Gophers.
Megan Plaschko, senior goalkeeper, No. 32 — The three-year starter is one of the Big Ten’s best goalies and is etching herself into Minnesota history. With 18 career shutouts, she sits two away from entering the program’s top five all-time. This season, she’s posted five clean sheets, which is tied for first in the conference. Additionally, she is 34th in the nation among goalies in minutes played.
Sophia Boman, junior midfielder, No. 9 — In a team with a below-average attack, Boman’s the star playmaker from her attacking midfield position. Coming off an incredible season in which she was named to the All-North Region second team and All-Big Ten second team, Boman has already matched last year’s stat line this season. With four goals and four assists, she leads the Gophers with 12 points. Look for her to drive play in the final third Sunday.
Set pieces. The Terps have conceded 25% of their goals from set pieces this season, and their first four games of the season all saw goals from corner kicks or free kicks. Minnesota draws the fifth-most corner kicks per game in the country at over seven. Eight of its 22 goals this season have come from set pieces, with Cesarone acting as an elite aerial threat on corners.
Road play. It truly has been a tale of two seasons for Minnesota, who is 5-3 at home but 1-4-2 on the road. Holding an 0-2-1 record in away games in conference play, Maryland will look to take advantage of the Gopher’s struggles away from home in its last game of the season at Ludwig Field.
Three things to watch
1. Malikae Dayes returns to action. To say the Terps missed the graduate defender in their 7-0 defeat at Ohio State would be an understatement. Without their star center back, the back line looked confused and out of place from the onset. After serving her one-game suspension, she’ll surely add some stability into a defense that needs to show up in a big way.
2. This is it for Maryland’s postseason hopes. It’s simple; if Maryland doesn’t win Sunday, the final two games of the regular season will be the last of the season as a whole. Somehow, someway, with how the conference has shaped up, if the Terps can beat the Gophers, two conference wins would have them in the thick of a heated four- or five-team race for the last seed in the Big Ten Tournament.
3. Home for the last time this season. The fans at Ludwig Field saw this program capture its first conference win in three years this season with a Sept. 16 win against Michigan. In a season of newness and change, it would be fitting to see the Terps send the fans home with a win. Minnesota is lesser of an opponent than recent games against Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan State, but the Gophers are no easy task. A highly competitive team with solid results stands in the way from a happy end to the home schedule in College Park.