Wake Forest team captain and graduate midfielder Giovanna DeMarco had a wide-open chance to give her team a lead in the 60th minute, and she did just that. Her perfectly-delivered top corner strike was all the Demon Deacons needed to end Maryland women’s soccer’s undefeated spell as it fell to Wake Forest, 1-0, on Thursday night in College Park.
Last Thursday, the Terps tied Georgetown 1-1 for their first positive result against a ranked opponent in three seasons. On Sunday against George Mason, Meghan Ryan Nemzer earned her first win as Maryland’s head coach and the team’s first win in 367 days.
Thursday night, that spell of positives came to a close with the one-goal home loss to No. 24 Wake Forest.
“They [the players] weren’t happy with the result, so that makes me happy as a coach. These are the teams you’re going to need to compete against if you want to win,” a disheartened, but not discouraged Nemzer said.
A Wake Forest team that almost never concedes — they’ve let up just one goal this season — saw Maryland drop attacking players into the midfield to clog up space, getting a taste of its own medicine.
The Demon Deacons started the game with a tremendous press, immediately finding themselves in and around the Terps’ 18-yard box from the onset. For the first 10 minutes, though, despite a heavy Wake attack, Maryland’s defenders stood tall — a common theme on the night.
The likes of graduate defender Amanda Schafer and center back Christa Waterman came up large with a couple of massive tackles, stifling any dangerous looks for the Demon Deacons.
Slowly, the Terps were able to find themselves more on the ball and possess into Wake Forest’s half.
Both teams failed to record a shot within the game’s opening 20 minutes, in large part due to the referee allowing little-to-no physicality; the official called an extremely tight game on both sides, especially in the midfield. Fifteen total fouls calls were made with a yellow card given to Wake Forest by the half’s end.
“We wanted to make the game a little bit more physical, you know, and disrupt their rhythm. So [the officiating] did play into a little bit of a factor for us,” Nemzer said.
Through the opening 45 minutes, Wake Forest showed its defensive prowess.
The Terps failed to manage a shot on goal all half, but the same could be said for the Demon Deacons.
Schafer was proud of how the Terps backline competed against a top-25 Wake Forest attack.
“We have experienced players [on defense] and we had to do our jobs tonight,” she said.
With just three shot attempts combined all half — all of which sailed miles high — Wake Forest went into the break even at zero. Nemzer had to be happy with how her team was able to contain a strong, ranked opponent.
The Terps’ sound structure in the first half seemed to dissipate early in the second, though.
“I’m excited to go back and watch the film. We were teaching on the fly tonight,” Nemzer said in response to the Terps being on their heels to start the second half.
The Terps came out sluggish to begin the half. An animated Nemzer on the sidelines voicing her displeasure as Wake Forest began to find their footing and get the ball in dangerous areas near Maryland’s senior goalkeeper Maddie Smith.
Wake Forest just about broke the tie in the 50th minute, with freshman midfielder Caiya Hanks whistling a howitzer of a shot past Smith’s ear just inches wide of the post.
As the game once again settled down, the Terps were able to get on the ball but still had issues creating.
The lack of production in the attacking half finally caught up to them, as in the 67th minute, the Demon Deacons took full advantage of a speedy counter attack.
The ball rolled to freshman forward Alex Wood’s feet from just inside the box, and while her initial shot was stopped by Smith, DeMarco made no mistake on the follow-up with a shot directly into the top right corner of the goal.
Down 1-0, desperation kicked in for Maryland, as Nemzer instructed her team up the field. But with the Terps unable to get anything going in the final third all game, Wake Forest was able to get on the ball with counter attacks.
Although clearly gassed as the 80th minute approached, Maryland’s backline held on tight, spearheaded by a few saves from Smith. Smith would finish with three saves, all in the second half.
The Terps finally started to put their foot on the gas with time dwindling, but it was too little, too late. Senior attacker Alina Stahl had the best of those chances, but her shot from just in front of goal was blocked by a Demon Deacon defender.
The Terps defensive-minded 4-4-2 formation allowed them to prevent, but not generate themselves.
“We stuck with them for most of the game. We did our plan and it worked for most of it,” junior midfielder Sydney Urban said.
The Terps will have a great opportunity on Sunday to rebound from Thursday’s loss, as they’ll take on Saint Joseph’s at 1 p.m.
Three things to know
1. The Terps suffered their first loss of the season. Wake Forest was always going to provide an immense challenge for the Terps, and the defensively-sound Demon Deacons didn’t let Maryland generate much of anything on the offensive end. Although it was not a poor showing from Nemzer’s team, the creative quality of the Terps was a no-show Thursday night.
2. Maryland was blanked for the first time this season. On the scoreboard and stat sheet, it was a miserable 90 minutes of attack for Maryland. The Terps registered just one shot on goal Thursday night, with Juliana Lynch seeing a long corner trickle on net, but credit is deserved for an outstanding Wake Forest team which has now allowed just 17 goals over their past 29 games.
3. A late push wasn’t enough. Nemzer has preached the fact that her team needs to compete for 90 minutes — not just a half, or in Thursday’s case, 10 minutes. They showed very little danger in the attacking end tonight, and when they did later in the contest, they still couldn’t force a meaningful shot on net.