The Terps lost their fourth straight game on Sunday in a tight 3-2 battle against No. 24 Indiana at Ludwig Field. Maryland has still not beaten the Hoosiers since joining the Big Ten, with its only win over Indiana coming back in 1994.
For the fifth consecutive game, Maryland conceded first as the Hoosiers took the lead in the 13th minute. Sophomore goalkeeper Nicole Kwoczka’s clearance hit her own defender, and the ball fell to freshman forward Jen Blitchok. Her first shot was saved by Kwoczka, but she put in her own rebound to give Indiana an early lead.
Maryland responded quickly, equalizing in the 20th minute. After winning the ball in the midfield, senior forward Mikayla Dayes played senior midfielder Sydney Staier out wide. Staier beat her defender, and cut the ball back across the face of the goal to redshirt junior forward Alyssa Poarch, who scored her first goal of the season. Poarch was excited to get on the scoresheet.
“It was frustrating at the beginning of the season to be out,” Poarch said. “Just to be able to get back on the field and play with the girls I’ve been playing with for years is a great feeling. And today was probably one of those games I finally felt like myself again.”
Head coach Ray Leone was also pleased with Poarch’s contribution.
“She showed the quality that she has,” Leone said. “We’ve been without three of our best players for most of the season, so she’s had a lot of focus on her. She finally got in there and she really showed her quality today, and I was happy with her performance.”
Despite Indiana dominating the first half, it ended level at 1-1. Indiana had fourteen shots to Maryland’s two in the first half, as the Terps were opportunistic and scored on their only shot on target in the first half.
Indiana retook the lead in the 56th minute. The Hoosiers took a free kick quickly to sophomore midfielder Alaina Kalin, who’s mishit cross beat Kwoczka at the near post to make it 2-1 to Indiana. After the Hoosiers took the lead Maryland looked the better team, possessing the ball more and creating some decent chances.
The Terps tied the game up in the 82nd minute. After taking the corner short, Poarch sat down her defender before drilling in a low cross which was met by sophomore forward Keyera Wynn to make it 2-2.
However, the Hoosiers quickly responded a minute later. Junior defender Oliwia Wos’ corner kick found the head of Blitchok for her brace. The late-goal put Indiana back in the lead, and despite a few late chances for Maryland the Hoosiers held on for a 3-2 win.
Despite the loss, this was Maryland’s best performance of the season. The Terps scored two quality goals and controlled most of the second half, which brought optimism along with the team’s fight.
“They dug down into something they had not reached yet,” Leone said. “Today we gave what it takes to win in the Big Ten probably for the first time [this season].”
Despite the disappointment with the result, Poarch and the Terps are optimistic about the future moving forward.
“We had a lot of energy and grit,” Poarch said. “Unfortunately we didn’t get the result, but we felt it from all 28 players, not just the eleven that we’re on the field. It sucks we didn’t get the win but we’re optimistic about the upcoming games.”
All of Indiana’s goals came off set pieces or mistakes from the Terps, which is an area the team is hoping to correct moving forward. Leone is looking forward to their first week long break between games since the beginning of the season to watch tape and correct these mistakes.
“We’ve got a week now finally to learn from our mistakes,” Leone said. “We haven’t watched enough video, and now we’ve got a week to really break down this game.”
Despite scoring twice, Maryland only managed five shots on target. The Terps only notched 12 shots on target through their first four games of the season, the second lowest total in the Big Ten. Leone also plans to use the extended time between games to focus on their attacking play.
“We got some good chances but with our attacking personalities, we should be getting more chances than just the few we are getting,” Leone said.
Maryland’s next game will be against No. 19 Rutgers, who’s only loss of the season came at No. 24 Indiana. Rutgers may also rise in the rankings before Saturday’s matchup due to wins over Michigan State and Ohio State this week.