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Maryland women’s soccer drops fourth straight Big Ten game, falls to Michigan State, 4-0

After winning its conference opener, Maryland has struggled in the Big Ten.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

With Michigan State controlling the game — already up 2-0 in the 70th minute — junior midfielder Zivana Labovic put an exclamation point on a dominant performance, scoring her first goal of the season through the rain and ultimately putting the contest out of reach for Maryland women’s soccer.

From the opening whistle to the final, Sunday marked Maryland’s worst performance of the season, unable to generate anything on either side of the ball, with the four-goal margin of defeat being the most lopsided of the 2022 campaign thus far.

“There's some injuries that we’re having right now and the travel probably stacks up a little bit right now. The trip back from Wisconsin was a was a long one. You know, we got up at five o’clock in the morning trying to do a quick recovery,” head coach Meghan Ryan Nemzer said when asked what attributed to the poor performance.

As both teams took a rainy and cold Ludwig Field, sloppy play was expected. Unfortunately, it was the Terps whose sloppiness was much more prevalent.

Maryland came into the game on a three-game losing streak, with the Spartans riding a six-game unbeaten streak.

From the onset, each team seemed to carry in its respective momentum.

The Terps were fortunate of the tough conditions early, as Michigan State dominated possession — 62 percent in the first half to be exact — but struggled to find the right footing.

With a massive advantage in shots as well, the Spartans looked bound to convert, but graduate goalkeeper Emory Wegener, making her third consecutive start for Maryland, held strong.

In the 30th minute, the away team finally started to display their elite talent, and put Maryland on its heels.

Wegener came up with two massive back to back saves, followed by an incredible scramble right in front of goal.

The pressure would prove too much, and Maryland’s defense eventually faltered.

In the 37th minute, on the Spartans’ 11th shot, senior attacker Lauren Debeau gave Michigan State a deserved 1-0 advantage.

As was a theme of the entire afternoon, Michigan State played with energy, hustle and precision, where as Maryland struggled to run out of its own half.

Evident by the Terps registering just one shot in the opening half, the Spartans would just continue to pour it on, dominating whistle-to-whistle.

The Spartans doubled their lead shortly after the break, as graduate midfielder Celia Gaynor took advantage of a staring Maryland back line, and pummeled home the ball past Wegener for her first goal of the season.

With the game at 3-0 shortly after and the crowd steadily leaving, Maryland’s now 1-4 record in the conference began to sink in as the rain and wind only heightened its sloppy display.

Michigan State would add a late goal in the 89th minute to make it 4-0.

“Michigan State is the best team we’ve seen in the Big Ten,” Nemzer said.

For the second time this season, Maryland was held to a lackluster one shot on goal, in comparison to Michigan State’s 11.

The Terps will host No. 6 Penn State next Sunday.

“The great news for us is that we do have a great week of recovery before Penn State which is much needed right now,” Nemzer added.

Three things to know

1. Maryland looked tired. After spending the past week on the road, and flying back from Wisconsin after Thursday night’s game, the Terps were unfortunately, yet unsurprisingly, sluggish. Not making necessary runs and getting outpaced by the Spartans, it was a disappointing showing from start to finish.

2. The losses are starting to piling up. While Maryland’s losses this season had come exclusively in one-goal games, many with heartbreaking finishes, Sunday’s game was pure decimation. Michigan State exploited a gassed Terrapin squad and danced its way through the defense to a commanding victory. Now sitting at 1-4 in Big Ten Play, each remaining conference game will slowly start to feel like must-wins if the Terps have postseason hopes.

3. The Terps have some time to rest before another tough task. The good thing for the Terps is that they finally will have a weeks rest before their next game. The bad news is that that opponent is No. 6 Penn State. The Nitany lions were undefeated before shockingly falling to Michigan State on Thursday. The Spartans are now unbeaten in seven straight. Next Sunday’s matchup against Penn State is the second-to-last leg of a grueling stretch of games.