After four consecutive 1-1 draws to begin its season, Maryland women’s soccer finally broke through Sunday afternoon. The Terps captured their first win of the season and the first of head coach Meghan Ryan Nemzer’s tenure as they dismantled George Mason, 3-0.
“It was a great day to celebrate Maryland soccer,” Nemzer said immediately following the victory.
It was a day of firsts for the Terps, as junior midfielder Catherine DeRosa recorded the first and second assists of her career, senior midfielder Sofi Vinas notched her first goal and assist as a Terp, and Alyssa Poarch scored her first goal since a knee injury ended her season last October after four games played.
The win, which was Maryland’s best and most complete 90-minute display of the season, was overdue.
There is little time for Nemzer’s crew to celebrate, though, and they will need to build on Sunday’s win to the fullest when they host an on-fire No. 24 Wake Forest squad Thursday night.
The Demon Deacons took last year’s matchup in Winston-Salem, 2-0, and hold a series advantage of 7-4-2 against the Terps.
Maryland will look to extend its undefeated streak to six games on Thursday night at 7 p.m when Wake Forest comes to Ludwig Field. The game will be available for streaming on Big Ten Plus.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (5-0-1)
2021 record: 16-6 (6-4 ACC)
The Demon Deacons came out of nowhere last season, going from a team with no postseason aspirations to finishing 16-6 whilst receiving their first NCAA Tournament bid in four years. After falling in overtime in the ACC Tournament to Florida State, they saw their postseason finally end in the second round at the hands of the Michigan Wolverines.
It was still an overwhelmingly successful season for the Demon Deacons, led by 26th-year head coach Tony da Luz, and they’ve continued that play into this season. Wake Forest has been firing on all cylinders — from the back line to the attack and everything in between.
Through their opening six games, they have recorded five clean sheets while scoring 15 goals. Their only draw came against No. 16 Auburn, even though they doubled the Tigers in shots. It’s been overall domination for this very experienced Demon Deacons squad, which returned eight of their 11 starters from last season. Through the opening weeks of the season, they have outshot opponents 100-37 while outscoring them 15-1. They’ve also registered at least 10 shots in five of the six contests.
Wake Forest climbed into the top 25 this week after spending the previous two leading the unranked bunch in receiving votes.
With contributions coming from all over the field so far this season, the Demon Deacons will pose an incredibly tough challenge to the Terps, who seem to be ready for the task.
Players to know
Kaitlyn Parks, redshirt junior goalkeeper, No. 1 — When a team has five clean sheets through its first six games, credit must obviously go to the goalkeeper, and that is especially the case here with Parks. Like her team as a whole, she has continued her form from last season. In 2021, she was a Second-Team All-American and three-time ACC Defensive Player of the Week. She has stopped 12-of-13 shots in her six starts so far this season.
Kristin Johnson, sophomore defender, No. 7 — Johnson leads a back four that has been beyond stellar this season — conceding just one goal through six games. As a freshman in 2021, she started 20-of-22 games, logging the fourth-most minutes of anyone on the team. Johnson has started in each contest and has logged by far the most minutes of all outfield players this season.
Liv Stowell, junior midfielder, No. 11 — After appearing in just eight games last season, Stowell has broken out this year. The New Hampshire native has played in each game this season, leading the team in goals (3) and points (7).
Defense. Bringing back three of their four starting defenders from a historic 2021 season, the Demon Deacons’ defensive core is one of the nation’s best. Last year’s defense allowed just 17 goals, the program’s least allowed in five seasons. And, this year the defensive core is on pace to better that. This year, they’ve allowed just one goal through the first quarter of the season. With an All-American behind the back line in net, scoring goals against Wake Forest is no easy task.
Fouls. There is not much negative about this year’s Wake Forest squad, but they have found themselves piling up on the number of fouls they’re committing. The Terps will find themselves under constant pressure with the ball, but if they can keep possession, the Deacons will give up set piece opportunities.
Three things to watch
1. Can the Terps build on their first win? The undefeated Terps (1-4-1) got their much-needed first win on Sunday, but that is just the first step in competing with a schedule that is set to progressively get more difficult. A positive result against Wake Forest would be massive for Maryland’s resume.
“[Sunday’s] win’s been coming for a while. It’s very exciting to get it and now build off of that,“ DeRosa, a team captain, said.
2. Can Maryland break Wake’s defensive wall? Simply put, the Demon Deacons don’t concede. In their past 28 games, they have allowed just 18 goals — only one this season. Maryland had struggled to score before Sunday’s game, so the attack must be firing on all cylinders Thursday evening.
3. Lightening Maddie Smith’s workload will be key. Prior to the Terps’ win against George Mason, senior goalkeeper Maddie Smith was under too much pressure. Against Georgetown, an opponent whose caliber is similar to that of Wake Forest, Smith was remarkable, single-handedly keeping Maryland within reach. If the field is slanted towards her again Thursday, the result will not be favorable.