After dominating possession throughout the entire second half, Maryland women’s soccer found itself on the verge of yet another second-half collapse, tied with VCU in the final 10 minutes. It all came down to the 89th minute, with VCU midfielder Milicia Bulatovic standing over a free kick from just outside the box.
Her shot at goal was parried up and off the crossbar by goalkeeper Liz Beardsley, with the ball then ricocheting toward VCU defender Jordan Pieklo, who fired a header right into the chest of the keeper.
The Terps held on for a 0-0 draw in Richmond, as Maryland drew for the fourth time in five games, and the third in a row.
A go-ahead goal seemed a sure thing for the Rams in the final 10 minutes, with another close chance coming from Bulatovic in the 86th minute. The midfielder made a great run into the box and made contact on a header that bonked off the post.
It was yet another performance by Maryland’s defense which saw it play completely different in the two halves. The Terps only allowed three shots in the first half, but as the second half came to a close their exhaustion seemed apparent. The Rams had seven shots in the second half, and Maryland was lucky to not give up a goal late in the game.
Terps head coach Meghan Ryan Nemzer highlighted the team’s focus on late-game situations in practice this week.
“We did speak about, when we felt like we were under the gun again, taking a deep breath, taking a moment,” Nemzer said. “Recognizing if we were defending for a couple minutes, how do we give ourselves some time?’”
Despite Maryland’s defenders’ faults, freshman defender Kennedy Bell had another outstanding performance at fullback. Her runs into the attacking half continue to be a mixture of blistering speed and measured ball control. And she had a few tackles that prevented potential chances in the second half.
It was the third game in a row in which the Terps outshot their opponent with double-digit shots, and still didn’t manage to win. The offense looked a lot more fluid than at the start of the season, but the lack of a final touch in crucial moments remained apparent. It was the first time in three games the Terps failed to score.
“They wanted us to play into their trap, so we spoke about the areas outside of their trap, and then once we got outside of their trap, down to continue to keep possession,” Nemzer said.
The first half started out quite uneventful for both sides. Besides some wonderful runs into the attacking half by defender Kennedy Bell, Maryland’s offense was almost completely stagnant.
As the half continued on, the Terps began to get closer and closer to a go-ahead goal. In the 29th minute, forward Madison Krakower found herself in the box after receiving a beautiful pass, wasn’t able to sort her feet out and lost possession.
In the last 10 minutes of the half, the Terps began to get themselves into threatening positions in and around the box, taking four shots in the last 25 minutes of the period.
A nice dart into the box by midfielder Lauren Wrigley in the 39th minute was followed by a cut back to forward Kelsey Smith, who was looking at a open net. But she rushed her shot and it sailed lightly over the crossbar, squandering the best look any team had seen to that point.
The match began to heat up after the first 10 minutes of the second half, with both teams coming extremely close to scoring.
VCU forward Kendyl Sarver was by herself in the middle of the box in the 55th minute when she rocketed a shot past the goal frame. Just a few minutes later, forward Peyton Bernard had a nice turn in the box that set her up for a shot, requiring a diving stop by the goalkeeper Allison Karpovich.
The Terps had a few more chances in the second half, but they sputtered out in the final stages. Forward Lisa McIntyre made a nice run in the 81st minute to the left side of the box, and fired one at the near post that required another diving save by Karpovich.
But it was VCU which made the final push, and Beardsley was up to the task to limit the Rams to a draw.
Three things to know
1. Another stellar first-half defensive performance. It’s surprising the Terps are still winless considering their defensive performances in the first half of games. On Thursday, the back line denied all runs in behind and forced the Rams to take shots from outside the box. Maryland has only allowed one first-half goal through five games.
2. McIntyre continues to look sharp. The freshman had another positive performance on Thursday, taking three shots and getting a few good looks in the second half.
3. No wins in non-conference play. One of the Terps’ goals heading into its non-conference games was to “win the DMV.” Now, three ties later, the Terps are just looking for a win to boost their confidence heading into Big Ten play. Maryland’s search for a win will continue against Towson and George Mason.