Right before halftime in Sunday’s matinee between Maryland women’s soccer and Penn State, Maryland received a free kick just outside the 18-yard box. With a chance to tie the game down 1-0, senior midfielder Sofi Vinas delivered a ball to graduate attacker Kam Fisher who headed it in.
The far-side linesman, who had an obstructed view of goal, said there was a collision with Penn State redshirt senior goalie Katherine Asman.
Maryland head coach Meg Ryan Nemzer stormed down the sideline in frustration, and for good reason. Replay showed that Fisher made zero direct contact with the keeper, and it was Asman’s failed punch of the ball that hit Fisher.
With Penn State up one goal at that point, an equalizer with 45 seconds left in the half would’ve turned the tide of the game. Instead, the Terps — whose resiliency has been a theme all season — had to find that comeback mentality in the second half once again, but a lack of discipline would prevent that in an eventual 2-0 defeat.
“Obviously some calls didn’t go our way, but that’s out of our control. We’re going to look at film, go through the things we did and didn’t do well, and we’re going to take that into Ohio State,” Maryland junior midfielder and captain Catherine DeRosa said.
The Terps have now lost five in a row and fall to 2-6-5.
After last week’s uninspiring 4-0 loss against Michigan State, the players channeled a week’s worth of frustration and turned it into more frustration in what had the chance to be a massive performance in front of a packed Ludwig Field.
Early on, an early-season version of the Terps showed up — one that kept possession and looked dangerous — but they were unable to find that final touch.
Through the opening 15 minutes, Maryland looked ready to exploit a vulnerable Penn State squad, which had lost two in a row coming into today and consequentially saw its No. 6 ranking dissipate.
After displaying an incredibly high early press, the Terps nearly took an early lead.
After forcing Penn State into a turnover in the midfield, the ball found DeRosa. Instead of looking for options, she decided to fire away from distance, seeing her shot sail high and wide.
That was a common theme throughout the first half for the Terps, who attempted six first half shots with none finding goal.
“We spoke about pressing them in certain areas, and I thought for the most part it worked and we created five or six dangerous opportunities. We need to have a little bit more of a killer mentality instead of settling for a 30-yard shot,” Nemzer said.
Senior attacker Alina Stahl had a break of her own shortly after DeRosa’s chance, but her dangerous shot deflected wide off a defender’s legs.
That would come back to haunt the Terps as the Nittany Lions took advantage of a deflection of their own in the 21st minute.
Penn State junior midfielder Natalie Wilson saw a tipped pass perfectly find her feet in on goal, and her low drive slid right under Maryland senior goalkeeper Maddie Smith, who made her first start in four games.
The rest of the half was evenly matched and defensively minded until Maryland’s disallowed goal in the 45th minute.
While the Terps needed to take the frustration and turn it into a positive, aggressive second half, they began the latter 45 minutes with an undisciplined game.
In the first three minutes, graduate defenders Malikae Dayes and Amanda Schafer both received yellow cards, with Dayes’ foul being her fifth card of the season, meaning she is suspended for the Terps’ next outing.
Schafer’s tackle came inside the box, giving Penn State a penalty kick — the first the Terps have conceded all season.
Smith came to the rescue, though, making a great stop on Penn State’s leading scorer Ally Schlegel.
Unfortunately for Maryland, the excitement lasted just a few short minutes, as Nittany Lion senior midfielder Cori Dyke doubled the lead in the 52nd minute.
“We adjusted as quickly as we could, but obviously not quick enough. Penn State started to go a bit more direct [to start the half,] and we had to deal with that in the moment,” Nemzer said.
That five-minute span proved to be the death of the Terps in a game where anger clearly impacted their play.
Despite that, Maryland almost immediately brought the score back to within one, but Stahl’s shot from a few yards out was stopped by Asman.
The Terps composed themselves after the undisciplined stretch of play, but their comeback effort was not enough against a Penn State team that was a top-10 team just two weeks ago.
Maryland gathered chances, but similarly to almost every game this season, the Terps’ abilities in the final third weren’t good enough.
Notching five shots and a couple of corners after the second goal, Maryland had its chances to come back in this game, but Penn State held strong, advancing to 8-3-2 on the season, with the Terps staying put at just one conference win.
Despite outshooting Penn State for the first time in series history, the Nittany Lions took advantage of timely mistakes from the Terps.
“It’s razor thin differences right now. It’s details and habits that we just need to get better at,” Nemzer ended with.
Maryland will look to break this ugly string of losses as it travels to Columbus to take on No. 16 Ohio State this Thursday.
Three things to know
1. Night and day from last week’s debacle. Despite the result, Maryland’s play was a full 360 from the loss against Michigan State. Today, Maryland was aggressive, looked dangerous at points and competed outside of a short span to start the second half. The disallowed goal to end the first half changed the tide of this game, but the Terps need to learn to not let decisions against them make them falter.
2. What happened to Maryland’s discipline? The Terps have been a disciplined, defensively sound team this season, but when the second-half whistle blew, that all went out the window. Three fouls and two yellow cards in a span of a few minutes ultimately ended this game, seeing the Terps give up their first penalty of the season on the first card and the second card leading to a goal. A lot of anger has been built up this season, and it showed today.
3. A loss within the loss. Graduate defender Malikae Dayes, the heart and soul of the Terps back line, committed a bad foul early in the second half. Assessed a yellow card on the play, the center back now has five cards on the season, which means she will miss Thursday’s matchup at Ohio State. The Terps likely need a positive result in every match until the end of the regular season to make the conference tournament, and her loss will be deeply missed.