clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Maryland women’s soccer wins first game of season with 1-0 shutout of Towson

The Terps finally found their way into the win column.

Ava Morales (2) scored the game-winning goal as Maryland women’s soccer notched its first victory of the 2023 season.
Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Defender Kennedy Bell pushed the ball up the field in the 52nd minute before she noticed an opportunity to make a play against Towson defender Sydney Lindeman. Maryland women’s soccer’s freshman fullback then put her head down and darted for the touchline.

Lindeman tried to put her body in the way, but Bell shoved off the weak challenge and found her way into the box before cutting back to a wide-open Ava Morales, who swept the ball into the goal to give Maryland a one-goal advantage.

“Something that [head coach Meghan Ryan Nemzer] and also my teammates around me have instilled in me is when I’m one vs. one and I have that space, like go,” Bell said, “And then just working on that final pass all week paid off.”

It was a dominant performance from the Terps, who smothered the Tigers with chances throughout. Even though Towson had opportunities to level the score, it wasn’t able to find a breakthrough, as the Terps collected their first win of the season, 1-0.

Outshooting its opponent finally paid off for Maryland, with the Terps managing 16 shots to the Tigers’ seven. While the final ball didn’t come in some situations, Maryland’s growth on the offensive side of the ball was finally backed up by a result.

Nemzer thought that the lack of chemistry amongst players around goal still could use some work, saying, “I think the relationships are still coming in that final third, and that’s what we've been focusing on.”

The Tigers were close to an immediate follow-up a few moments after Morales’ goal, but goalkeeper Liz Beardsley came to the rescue. Towson forward Nia Christopher found herself adjacent to the post next to a crowd of defenders, but was stopped by a diving Beardsley.

Maryland controlled almost of the play in the first 45 minutes, limiting Towson to just three shot attempts. It wasn’t surprising how the Terps came out of the gate in the first half — they had kept a clean sheet in the first half of their previous four games.

Despite the dominant nature, Maryland failed to convert early on again. The chances came in bunches for the Terps, as their aggressive nature led to five offsides calls in the first 45 minutes of gameplay.

Only two of Maryland’s 10 shots in the first half were on target, both of which were easily saved by Riley Melendez, the reigning CAA Goalkeeper of the Year.

After the go-ahead goal, the match turned into an all-out battle, with both sides exchanging blows.

Nerves were high for the final 10 minutes, as the Tigers were going at a Maryland back line that seemed content sitting back. The away team put up one shot in that span, with a header from forward Demi Pierre in front of goal sailing into the bleachers in the 83rd minute.

But for the first time this season, Maryland’s defense was able to stay composed late. The unit looked focused throughout both halves, constantly picking up and preventing runs from Towson’s forwards. Despite some late pressure, the Terps were able to hold on and secure their first win of the season.

Bell mentioned that after games against Navy and James Madison that saw the team give up goals late, the coaching staff emphasized preserving leads late. “Coaches really pushed into us like working on that last 10 to 15 if we’re up, and how to manage a game,” she said.

Three things to know

1. A Bell masterclass. The freshman has been one of Maryland’s most valuable players to start this season. Not only did she have an assist on Sunday, but she was all over the field in both halves, picking off passes and making tackles. Nemzer spoke about Bell’s work ethic and why that makes her different.

“She thinks that she has a ton of room to grow, so I think that will and that desire makes her special,” Nemzer said.

2. The Terps finally won. Maryland has struggled all season to close out games and add a win to its record. Its streak of three consecutive draws finally came to an end Sunday, which should give the team a confidence boost with Big Ten play just two games away.

3. Beardsley came up big. Sunday marked the third clean sheet in six games for Maryland’s new goalkeeper, and she seemed in sync with the back line all afternoon. Her performance showed why head coach Meghan Ryan Nemzer has so much faith in the Georgia transfer.