After spending nearly all of the 90 minutes stuck in its own end, Maryland women's soccer continued to show its incredible resilience, as graduate forward Mikayla Dayes found her way into open space and connected with a wide open Alina Stahl, who drilled a shot to the back of the net to even the game at one and send Ludwig Field into an absolute frenzy.
With just six minutes to go, the Terps — being outshot, outplayed, and outclassed — found a way to even the score and get a positive result.
“Honestly, I just found myself in the right place at the right time,” Stahl said. She has contributed on every goal for the Terps so far this season.
Yet again, a Maryland women’s soccer game ended in a 1-1 tie, but Thursday’s result against No. 17 Georgetown in College Park was its most impressive of the season thus far.
The first win of head coach Meg Ryan Nemzer’s tenure will have to wait at least a few more days, as the Terrapins had to play conservatively to match the level of the Hoyas.
For the larger parts of Maryland’s opening three contests, it was given opportunities with loads of open space to make plays. Going against a grizzled and skilled Georgetown team, the Terps quickly found that to be much more difficult this time around.
Through the opening 10 minutes, both clubs struggled to manage much in the attacking sense, seeing 19 throw-ins and nothing close to an attempt on goal.
With no other side having a clear advantage in possession, Dayes nearly broke the 0-0 tie from out of nowhere, taking her chances on a long-distance strike that required an important tip over the crossbar from Hoyas freshman goalkeeper Cara Martin.
In the 26th minute, the Hoyas’ most dangerous scorer so far this season — freshman attacker Henley Tippins — had a good opportunity on goal, but her attempt from only four yards out got blocked by the leg of Maryland senior defender Sydney Hopkins.
The Hoyas found their game in the latter part of the half, keeping the play in Maryland’s end and forcing senior goalkeeper Madeline Smith to be sharp.
The 32nd minute saw Smith make a great save as her own, as a Georgetown corner looked destined to go in directly from the cross, but the Omaha, Nebraska native was able to get a finger on the delivery to deflect the Hoyas go at goal just wide.
The following minutes saw Smith come up clutch twice more, before an absolutely unbelievable sequence in front of Maryland’s goal.
With five minutes left in the first half, sophomore attacker Maja Lardner had a great attempt steered away by Smith — her sixth save of the game — followed by a laser off the foot of her freshman counterpart, forward Natalie Means, that rattled the crossbar on a Georgetown corner which went awry. Somehow, someway, the game was still even at zero.
After the opening 45 minutes, the Terps were outshot, 11-1, with the Hoyas attempting seven corner kicks to Maryland’s one.
“I think we fell asleep a little bit during the game plan for the first half,” Nemzer said after the game.
Maryland began the second half on a much better note than it ended the first, getting and keeping the ball in Georgetown’s end, gaining a few corner kicks and a producing an attempt on goal in the opening 10 minutes.
In the 58th minute, though, Georgetown managed to get a corner, and finally got the go-ahead goal that had escaped it all evening. An excellent delivery from Fernandez-Powell saw Tippins make no mistake on the receiving end. Tippins now has five goals in five career appearances.
A common theme of this game was the stellar play of Madeline Smith, as just minutes after the opening goal, she recorded her seventh and eighth saves of the game. Despite trailing by one, Smith’s heroics kept Maryland in the game.
“When the players stopped talking to me, I realized that I just got to keep my team in this,” Smith said postgame. And she did.
A 77th-minute corner kick for the Hoyas nearly resulted in them adding another score, but graduate defender Maya Alcantara was unable to get the right foot on a wide-open chance.
The window was still open for the Terps. And they converted.
Improbably, their third shot of goal on the game ended up in the back of the net. A beautiful play by Dayes to get into open space was finished off by senior attacker Alina Stahl. All the Terps needed was one chance, and in the 84th minute, Maryland took full advantage, holding on for the remaining six minutes.
“Our team motto is ‘fight,’” Stahl added. “And we did that all night.”
Despite being nearly tripled in shots (15-6), Maryland continues its undefeated season. At 0-0-4, the Terps will look for their first win against George Mason in a Sunday matinee matchup.
“As we’ve talked about, we bend but we don’t break... I’m very proud of the fight that the team had tonight,” Nemzer said.
Three things to know
1. Maryland conceded another goal off a set piece.
When asked what went wrong for most of tonight’s game, Nemzer simply said, “Set pieces again.”
Tippins’ 58th-minute goal came off yet another corner kick. All four of the goals conceded by the Terps this season have come from corner kicks or free kicks. It is certainly a concern for Nemzer, and a troubling theme early in the season. If Maryland can improve its defense on set pieces, it will be in good shape moving forward.
2. The Terps were tested, and they answered. Maryland had yet to see an opponent like the Hoyas, and although it showed, they were able to survive — barely. Following the latter half of the opening 45 minutes in which they conceded seven shots on goal in a 10 minute period, the Terps were dominated. Keeping the deficit at just one was an accomplishment in its own right — but they were able to incredibly draw even — an unbelievable result from a team with a never-say-die attitude.
3. Maddie Smith prevented a blowout defeat. A draw indicates that the quality of play was close, but in reality, it was far from that. Georgetown registered 10 shots on goal, with seven of those coming in the first half. Coupled with a shot off the post and a last-ditch goal-line clearance, the Hoyas dominated possession and could have put the game away if it wasn't for goalkeeper Maddie Smith, who was phenomenal in net. Smith’s only goal allowed came on Tippins’ easy strike from a corner kick, and she finished the contest with a season and career-high of nine saves.