With a loss against Minnesota last Thursday, Maryland women’s soccer was officially eliminated from Big Ten Tournament contention.
Riding a seven-game losing streak, head coach Meg Ryan Nemzer wanted her team to know that there is still plenty to fight for in the remaining two games.
“We don’t really talk about all the losses. We talk about the next game and becoming 1% better every day. That’s what we’re going to focus on,” Nemzar said
Despite Thursday’s loss, it was a better performance than prior games, including a 7-0 loss against Ohio State the game before.
The Terps notched their first goal in two weeks courtesy of graduate attacker Alyssa Poarch, but it was not enough as the Gophers’ leading goal-scorer, graduate defender Gabbie Cesraone, headed in the go-ahead tally with under a minute left in the first half.
As they head on the road for the final two games of the season, the Terps will face off against teams with zero combined wins in the Big Ten, starting this Thursday against Indiana in Bloomington.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. with streaming available on Big Ten Plus.
Indiana Hoosiers (2-6-7, 0-6-2 Big Ten)
2021 record: 9-5-4 (3-4-3 Big Ten)
The Hoosiers and Terps (2-8-5) come into this week’s contest with similar seasons, and similar ailments following them week-to week in the form of a lack of goal-scoring.
Indiana has struggled from the onset this season, going winless in five of its first six games and being shut out by all but two nonconference opponents.
Conference play has been an even rougher slate for the Hoosiers, with them unable to notch a win and being outscored 15-2. That number was 13-0 before a 2-2 draw against Purdue, who the Terps conclude their season at on Sunday.
After three successful seasons, head coach Erwin van Bennekom has seen his team completely falter this year.
Playing to six 0-0 draws and only scoring in three games, the 2022 campaign has been a forgetful one for the Hoosiers, finding themselves alongside the Terps in playing out their final two games with nothing but moral victories to fight for.
Players to know
Anna Bennett, sophomore attacker, No. 11 — With Indiana having just 10 goals on the season, Bennett has really been its only steady presence in the attack. Tied for the lead in goals, assists and points, she notched the Hooisers’ first goal in seven games this past weekend against Purdue. If Indiana can generate any offense against the Terps, it’ll start with Bennett.
Olivia Smith, freshman midfielder, No. 14 — Appearing in 11 games this season, Smith was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week Tuesday afternoon after scoring her first collegiate goal against Purdue to help secure a 2-2 draw. The Indiana native has seen her minutes off the bench increase every week, and is up to 390 minutes on the season.
Jamie Gerstenberg, sophomore goalkeeper, No. 31 — When a team can’t score much but its record isn’t filled with losses, one can thank the goalkeeper — and thats certainly the case for Indiana. Gerstenberg, who entered this season on the Big Ten Women’s Soccer Players to Watch List, has been a lone bright spot this season. Third in the conference in saves, save percentage and shutouts, Gerstenberg has been phenomenal in her 13 starts.
Home-field advantage. Indiana is .500 at home, with a 2-2-4 record in Bloomington. Three of those draws were scoreless, with its two wins coming in 5-0 and 3-0 routs of nonconference opponents. In the Big Ten, though, it’s been tough sledding no matter where the game is played, as the team sits at 0-3-2. Provided the Hoosiers have a 0-4-3 road record, they’re a much better team at Bill Armstrong Stadium.
Offense. The Hoosiers have the worst attack in the conference, with just two goals in conference play and 10 on the entire season. No player has more than two tallies and they have been shutout in over half their games, including all but one game in the Big Ten. Maryland’s offense is only slightly better statistically, so expect a shutdown game this Thursday.
Three things to watch
1. A final road trip to end the season strong. It’s been a disappointing season for the reinventing program, but Maryland has the chance to end the year strong against two lackluster opponents. Indiana and Purdue find themselves with Maryland at the bottom of the Big Ten table, so the Terps have a good chance to head into the offseason on a positive note.
2. Can the defense revert back to its dominant ways? Just a few weeks ago, Maryland was feared defensively and was suffocating its opponents. In the past month, the seas have parted on the Terps’ back line, provided against tough opponents, but it will be interesting to see if they can lock in against an Indiana team that hasn’t been able to score much in the conference.
3. Two teams on long winless streaks. Maryland has gone seven games without a win. Indiana has gone eight. One would think that something has to give when these two teams play with nothing but their own morale to fight for. Time will tell.