With under five minutes to go in Maryland women’s soccer’s penultimate game of the season, senior attacker Alina Stahl found herself in front of Indiana’s goal and struck a shot that rolled to the back of the net for her team-leading fifth goal of the season.
Stahl’s late tally proved to be the winner, as the Terps held on against a struggling Indiana side to secure a 1-0 victory and snap a seven-game losing streak.
“I was able to hold my run and [Alyssa Poarch] played me a beautiful ball,” Stahl said.
Maryland women’s soccer finally got out of the loss column Thursday night, leaving Bloomington, Indiana, with a win.
With the result, Maryland takes some positive momentum into its season finale Sunday at Purdue. Indiana’s winless streak extended to nine.
The two lowest-scoring teams in the Big Ten lived up to that moniker, with the attacking quality leaving much to be desired throughout the 90 minutes. Despite Maryland and Indiana sitting in the bottom two spots in the conference and playing for nothing but its own morale, it competed hard, especially on the defensive end, keeping many dangerous chances away from their respective goals.
The opening half presented most of the opportunities, but even so, not much danger arose for either team. Indiana came out of the gates on the front foot but never really established its presence in front of goal. Despite registering three shots on goal in the opening 15 minutes, it was easy for senior goalkeeper Maddie Smith, who handled each shot with no trouble.
The game wasn’t without its chances, yet the quality of which they were taken was poor from both sides until the Terps broke through in the waning minutes.
The Hoosiers were able to test Smith five times in the game, but without much power or real threat. For the Terps, who managed six shots on goal, their problem was finding the right pass, as they found themselves having more and more of the ball as the game progressed.
Countless turnovers and poor balls through the final third saw Maryland have to take shots from severe angles and not cause too much trouble on Indiana sophomore goalkeeper Jamie Gerstenberg in the first half.
As the game settled into the second half, Maryland became the aggressor, with Indiana netting a lone shot on goal in the half, while the Terps managed nine shot attempts in the latter 45 minutes.
As has been seen all season, head coach Meg Ryan Nemzer had her team competing well and keeping possession. But when it comes to finishing off chances, the Terps struggled until Stahl’s late tally.
But, something else Nemzer has said this season is that her team “will bend but not break”. The Terps did that Thursday night, and despite seeing 85 minutes of frustration boil, they kept at it against a tired Indiana defense and ultimately got the winner.
When asked her emotions when she saw the goal hit the back of the net, Stahl said, “It was more just relief because we really deserved this one.”
It has been a long month of despair for Maryland, and beating an opponent that it should have taken three points from is a positive with the season winding down on a rebuilding program.
This is Maryland’s first win against Indiana since 1994.
The Terps will head to West Lafayette, Indiana, Sunday afternoon to face Purdue as they look to close out the season in winning fashion.
Three things to know
1. It was a predictable result. Coming into Thursday’s game, both teams had scored just two goals in their last five games, respectively. Indiana has played to six 0-0 draws this season and both teams sit at the bottom of the goal-scoring table in the conference. A defensive stalemate was predictable, and that’s what occurred on Thursday night.
2. Maryland showed a better defensive effort. Provided Indiana had not scored a goal in a month prior to its last game against Purdue, a shutout is a shutout, and Maryland’s defense had its best performance since early September. Graduate center back Christa Waterman linked especially well with freshman Tahirah Turnage, helping the Terps’ back line work together to suffocate the Hoosiers’ attack.
3. Maddie Smith was comfortably busy. Notching her third clean sheet of the year, the senior goalkeeper was without error Thursday night. Making four fairly easy saves in the first half, including three in the opening 15 minutes, Smith was good early and often. She finished with six saves on the night that allowed Maryland to escape Bloomington with a win.