Maryland women’s soccer had its last home game of the season Saturday, taking a 2-1 victory over Purdue thanks to two goals in the second half from forward Mikayla Dayes and midfielder Loren Sefcik.
The Terrapins entered Sunday as one of many bubble teams looking for a spot in the Big Ten tournament, and the victory kept them in the conversation. Maryland shot up in the rankings because of the win, now sitting in the sixth spot. The team also boasts its best record since joining the conference in 2014.
With two games remaining in the regular season, Maryland will face polar opposite foes. First it will play the conference’s last-place team, Michigan State on Thursday. The Terrapins then end with a tough match against the Big Ten’s top-ranked Michigan.
Michigan State (8-7-1, 1-6-1 Big Ten): Thursday, 7 p.m.
The Spartans entered the 2019 season as the only Big Ten team ranked below Maryland in the preseason standings. But Michigan State began the year strong, posting a 7-1 record in nonconference play, before struggling at the start of Big Ten play.
Michigan State dropped its last four games and tied the one before that. The only conference win that the Spartans posted this year came at home against Purdue.
Players to know
Gia Wahlberg, sophomore forward No. 15 — Wahlberg has led the attack this season as the team’s leading scorer with nine goals. In her freshman campaign, the Illinois native went without a goal, but has seemed to turn the tape in her second season. Wahlberg missed three games this year, but has started in the other 13 she’s appeared in.
Lauren Kozal, redshirt freshman goalkeeper No. 00 — In her first season as Michigan State’s last line of defense, Kozal has made the most of her opportunities. In 16 games, she has allowed an average of 1.45 goals per game with a save percentage of 0.75.
Paige Webber, freshman forward No. 28 — The first-year player ranks second in points for the Spartans with 14, 12 of which come from her six goals. Webber has appeared and started in all 16 games this season, and she’ll be a key factor in the team’s attack on the offensive side of the ball.
Three things to watch
- Can the Terrapins make history? Going into the 2019 season, Maryland had never made the Big Ten tournament. After being ranked second-to-last in the preseason poll, the Terrapins have defied the odds and currently sit within the parameters to make their first conference tournament appearance.
- Will the road be an issue? Maryland owns just one road win this season, the only one in the last two years. With no games left in College Park, the Terrapins will need to figure things out away from home if they want to be considered for a spot in the postseason.
- Can Maryland win the easy one? The Terrapins are 3-0 against the conference’s lowest-ranked teams not named Michigan State. If the team can take care of business against the Spartans, the only thing remaining in the regular season is a date with top-ranked Michigan. One win over the weekend could very well send Maryland to its first-ever Big Ten tournament.