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Maryland women’s soccer unable to break through in scoreless draw against Saint Joseph’s

The Terps finish their nonconference slate at 1-1-5 and host Michigan Friday.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Eighteen minutes into Sunday’s matinee against Saint Joseph’s, Maryland women’s soccer graduate forward Alyssa Poarch came inches away from kicking off the scoring, but her left-footed curling effort hit the crossbar, came down right on the goal line, and somehow didn’t find its way into the back of the net.

Missed chances were a theme all day for the Terps as they tied Saint Joseph’s in a scoreless draw.

Despite finishing the contest outshooting Saint Joseph’s, 12-3, and dominating play from the onset, Maryland was held to one or fewer goals for the sixth time in seven games to start the season.

“You know, we created enough to win the game, you know, but we’ll have to go back and clean things up a little bit,” head coach Meghan Ryan Nemzer said postgame.

Ultimately, Maryland’s 15 seniors and graduate student-athletes weren’t able to cap off Senior Day on a high note, as Maryland’s draw brings its record to 1-1-5 ahead of conference play.

The Terps will have an extended five-day break before hosting Michigan Friday night in their first Big Ten matchup of the season.

The Terps’ performance was night and day from Sunday’s loss against Wake Forest, as they came out with their foot on the gas and never really let go, but they just couldn’t find the right foot in the attacking third.

Sunday’s refereeing involved few whistles, with both coaches showing their constant frustration.

In the opening 20 minutes, Maryland registered a couple of dangerous shots on goal, including Poarch’s 18th-minute shot off the woodwork.

Despite the dominant opening display from the Terps, the lack of capitalization early started to give the Hawks some momentum as the game stretched into the latter parts of the first half.

The Terps were nearly tripling Saint Joe’s in shots as the game approached 10 minutes left in the opening half, but the Hawks came close to scoring, requiring a goal-line clearance from graduate defender Christa Waterman to keep the score knotted at zero.

The direction of the matchup started to feel eerily similar to last year’s draw between these teams, as the opening 45 minutes saw the Terps dominate but with no goals to show for it.

The second half began much like the first, but with worsening conditions on the field, play became even sloppier, with little to no danger arriving in the final third for either side.

As Maryland continued to dominate the possession game, it looked like it was set to break through. Poarch was taken down for a seemingly clear foul that would’ve led to a penalty kick, but the official, who was letting both teams play throughout the match, saw no infraction.

“You just kind of have to deal with the conditions that you’re given. When the referee calls like today, or when the ball doesn’t bounce your way, you just kind of deal with it,” Maryland graduate defender Amanda Schafer said.

The Terps gained momentum after the no-call, keeping play in the Hawks’ end for the remaining 30 minutes.

In the 60th minute, graduate attacker Kam Fisher received a cross right to her feet in the middle of the 18-yard-box, but a cross-body shot whistled a few feet wide of the post.

While the home side continued to put the press on, freshman defender Tahirah Turnage lost possession in the 65th minute, leading to a two-on-one counter for Saint Joseph’s. Graduate defender Amanda Schafer, seeing Malikae Dayes in trouble, outran every player on the field — from nearly one box to the other — to stall the dangerous chance in its tracks.

It was one of many incredible plays in an outstanding performance from the fullback.

Saint Joseph’s continued to be on their heels, but it became a strategic play as the game winded down in the final 20 minutes.

Each Maryland break — and there were plenty of them — saw seven or eight Hawks already awaiting the Terrapin attack.

“If we had another 45 minutes, I think we would have got an opportunity and put one in the back of the net,” Nemzer added.

The shots would keep piling in for Maryland, but they couldn’t find the seams for open chances, and when there was a few feet of space, those opportunities came from outside the box with shots flying high and wide.

The lack of ability to take advantage on their chances led to another draw for the Terps — their fifth in seven games.

The result continues a troubling theme for this Maryland team; its positive play is not leading to positive results.

The Terps will have to drastically improve their finishing abilities before beginning conference play this Friday against the Michigan Wolverines.

“New season, new team, new opportunity. And just think that once we come into Friday, it’s gonna be a show, and we’re ready to perform and show everybody what we’ve been working on,” a confident Olivia Hicks said.

Three things to know

1. The scoring woes continue and it won’t fly in conference play. Frankly, Maryland had four or five prime chances Sunday. The Terps defense was solid today, but it did not matter because they generated few chances themselves. The Big Ten is probably the second-best conference in women’s soccer, and Maryland’s only game scoring more than a goal this season came against a lackluster George Mason squad. Simply put, the quality of play is there for Maryland, but success comes from scoring, and that hasn’t arrived yet as the third week of the season approaches.

“Everyone’s got to be a goal scorer. So that’s gonna be the message this week,” Nemzer said.

2. A disappointing result for a superior Maryland team. Head coach Meghan Ryan Nemzer knew that her Terps would spend much of the game on the ball against St. Joseph’s, and they spent nearly all of the game with possession, but the Hawks strategized for that. The Hawks allowed 17 goals in their first seven games, and the Terps failing to score on any of their numerous opportunities is a major disappointment against a team prone to giving up goals.

3. Amanda Schafer impressed. Schafer was clearly the best player on the field Sunday. She began the game at right back before transitioning to left back early in the second half. She was the Terps’ most active defender while creating most of Maryland’s attacking chances. Up and down the field, from her own box to the attacking end, it was a creative display from the graduate defender.

“Amanda is unbelievable. What she does for us on the defensive side is unbelievable, but also on the attacking side and I think she’s providing great insight of how we want to play the ball,” Nemzer said.