With Maryland women’s soccer already leading 1-0, senior midfielder Sofi Vinas notched her first goal of the season from a perfectly delivered pass from junior midfielder Catherine DeRosa, doubling the Terrapins’ lead and ultimately securing a 3-0 win over George Mason in College Park on Sunday afternoon.
After starting the season with four consecutive ties, the win marks the first for first-year head coach Meghan Ryan Nemzer.
“This is where I want it to be. This is my dream job. More importantly, we got the win for the team,” a soaked Nemzer said after the players dumped Gatorade on her in celebration.
“Meg has poured everything into this program since she’s gotten here,” captain Catherine DeRosa added, to the emphatic agreement of Vinas and senior goalkeeper Maddie Smith.
Heading into this matchup, the Terps had a good chance to pick up their first win of the year and Nemzer’s squad capitalized on that opportunity from the onset.
Maryland nearly got off to a blistering start, with a fourth-minute corner kick delivery from junior midfielder Juliana Lynch seeking out the head of graduate defender Christa Waterman. Waterman, who made her first start since the second game of the season, had her attempt sail just over the crossbar.
In what was George Mason’s lone chance of the first half, freshman forward Sophie Davidson showed incredible speed to find herself in on goal, but Smith had no trouble securing the shot from just inside the box. That would end up being the only shot Smith would face all day, en route to her first shutout with the Terps.
For the first time this season, Maryland was able to score the first goal of the game.
Unsurprisingly, it was once again senior forward Alina Stahl, who took a nice pass from DeRosa and beautifully slid the ball past the outstretched arms of the Patriots’ freshman goalkeeper Selamawit Caldart.
Stahl’s 14th-minute tally continued her streak of goal contributions, as the West Virginia transfer has three goals and two assists on Maryland’s five goals this season.
The goal-scorer was subbed off shortly after, as Nemzer looked to better anchor the midfield and defensive structure, which worked, as George Mason failed to get a look on goal from that point until halftime.
The Terps continued to lay on the pressure, but without much urgency to drive plays into the box.
Continuing to dominate the possession game, Maryland began to turn that into chances starting in the 27th minute. A DeRosa free kick landed perfectly in the 18-yard-box for any Maryland attacker, but a scramble in front of goal saw the ball eventually cleared.
That was quickly followed up by DeRosa curling a long shot which was corralled by Caldart.
DeRosa was all over the place in the opening half, and she was finally rewarded as her 37th-minute corner kick delivery found senior midfielder Sofi Vinas, who pummeled the ball into the top right corner of the net.
Up 2-0, Maryland had already equaled last year’s scoreline against the Patriots and carried all the momentum headed into the second half.
It didn’t take long for tensions to flare between these closely-located schools as the second half began. Maryland junior midfielder Juliana Lynch fell on the receiving end of a questionable challenge by George Mason freshman defender Nina Wilson, and Lynch wasted no time in showing the spunk she’s displayed in spurts this season.
Lynch immediately got up and forcefully started a shoving match with Wilson, causing the referee to give both players a yellow card.
Following the encounter, the Patriots failed to control the ball for sustained periods of time and the Terps were able to casually find themselves in pockets of open space in the attacking end.
A fast break for the Terps just before the 60th minute came close to extending the lead to three, but graduate forward Mikayla Dayes couldn’t get much on the shot only a few yards away from goal.
As the teams entered their second mandatory hydration break of the afternoon in the 65th minute, Maryland had the game all but secured. Outshooting the Patriots, 8-2, the Terps had not allowed a shot on goal since the ninth minute.
Although it was in cruise control, Maryland did not let off the gas. Continuing to put the pressure on — with graduate forward Alyssa Poarch at the front end — the Terps sent a couple of shots toward the net in a matter of minutes.
Her 72nd-minute attempt had the crowd fooled, as her volley just barely missed the inside post and rattled the outside netting.
“Even though we were up 2-0, we go into every half with that 0-0 mentality, and we just follow the game plan,” Vinas said.
Two minutes later, her graduate attacking counterpart Kam Fisher had an even more glorious chance at goal, but her shot off the outside of her foot landed nowhere near the goal.
George Mason became more hopeless as the contest waned down as the Terps started to execute plays straight from the training ground without much resistance.
One of those ended with a wide open shot from senior midfielder Mia Isaac, but it went straight at the middle of the net, forcing Caldart into her fifth save of the day.
Although Maryland had all but secured the win with just a few minutes to play, Poarch took a Vinas feed in the 89th minute and extended Maryland’s lead to three. Vinas’ assist gave her the first two-assist game of her four-year career.
For Poarch, it was a long time coming, as the graduate forward saw her season end after just four games last season due to injury. Just under a year later, she found her way back on the scoresheet for the Terps.
“She cried over and over when she scored,” Nemzer said. “She is a remarkable human being and obviously she’s an amazing soccer player.”
From the opening whistle to the final one, Maryland did just about everything right to get its first win of the 2022 season.
Three things to know
1. It was the first win of Meg Ryan Nemzer’s tenure. There was a ton of excitement surrounding the new era of Maryland women’s soccer when head coach Meg Ryan Nemzer came to Maryland this offseason. Sunday’s result spoke to that excitement, as the Terps finally secured that elusive first win of the season, and did so in dominating fashion.
2. Maryland finally got off to a fast start. It took five games, but the comeback mentality of Maryland finally did not have to be featured. With Stahl’s 14th-minute goal, the Terps had a lead, and instead of sitting back on it and allowing the Patriots to play with the ball, they took the momentum and ran with it. A one-goal lead became two, and then three. It was an excellent, full-throttle 90-minute display from the Terps.
3. Catherine DeRosa was everywhere. A captain of the team, the midfielder had zero career assists coming into Sunday’s game. In the first half, she had two — launching a free kick that nearly resulted in a third and seeing a hard shot on goal saved at the bottom corner of the net. “Bootsie” — one of DeRosa’s nicknames — was everywhere Sunday afternoon in what was the best game of her career.
“She wears her heart on the sleeve and whether it was you know, 90 degrees or whatever the weather was, you know, she finds a way to compete,” said Nemzer.