Maryland women’s soccer opens season with 1-1 draw against Michigan State

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

The Terps kicked off their season with a 1-1 draw against Michigan State at Maryland Stadium.

It had been well over 400 days since the last time the Terps and Spartans played, and you could tell, as the sides played out a very nervy first half.

“It was exciting,” head coach Ray Leone said. “Both teams were really amped up, and it was really hard to calm down.”

“I don’t think we calmed down the whole game,” Leone laughed. “It’s hard, when you’re so tense to play with the skill level that’s necessary at this level to be successful.”

Michigan State had the best chance of the first half in the 16th minute, when junior forward Gia Wahlberg was played in behind and unleashed a shot from 10 yards out, but saw it blocked by Terps junior defender Adalee Broadbent.

The Terps best chance of the first half came from senior midfielder Sydney Staier, who struck a shot first time from 25 yards out that was well saved by Michigan State goalkeeper Lauren Kozal.

However, these chances were far and few between, as the cagey first half saw only 7 total shots between the sides. The Terps started redshirt freshman goalkeeper Kennedy Tolson, and brought in sophomore Nicole Kwoczka at halftime and both received high praise from Leone. 

“They both had played very well, so we decided they were going to split,” Leone said. “We don’t know how we’ll do it going forward but they both played very well today. For both of them to get that experience as young players is great.”

The Terps almost got off to the perfect start in the 2nd half.

In the 53rd minute, a one-two between senior forward Mikayla Dayes and freshman midfielder Catherine DeRosa put Dayes in behind. However her shot was saved by Kozal and junior forward Emily McNesby sent the rebound high. Michigan State scored the first goal of the match in the 63rd minute.

The Terps failed to clear sophomore Paige Webber’s cross, and junior forward Gia Wahlberg pounced on the loose ball before slotting it in the bottom corner from 10 yards out.

The Terps upped the tempo late, and finally capitalized after a flurry of late chances through Mikayla Dayes, who deflected a Michigan State clearance into the bottom corner in the 89th minute, sending the game to overtime. Mikayla Dayes talked about her viewpoint on the tying goal.

“I was looking to shoot, and I kind of mishandled it,” Dayes said. “But I just kept working through it and it ended up being a goal, so I’ll take it.”

Leone was also very complimentary of Mikayla Dayes’ performance.

“She really carried us up front tonight, and is a leader of the front line,” Leone said.

Neither the Terps or Spartans were able to capitalize in the two overtime periods, despite Mikayla Dayes getting in behind the Spartans defense once again. Kozal was quick off her line and was able to stop Dayes from scoring what would have been a walk-off winner for the Terps.

The Terps were without senior defender Malikae Dayes and redshirt junior forward Alyssa Porch tonight, who were both named in the Big Ten Women’s Soccer Players To Watch List. Leone declined to comment on why the duo were missing.

“We hope to be back to full strength very shortly,” Leone said.

The Terps are now undefeated against Michigan State in their last 3 meetings, with their last loss against the Spartans coming back in 2016.

The Terps now have a brief road stint, with games at Purdue on Feb. 25 and Northwestern on Feb. 28, before returning home to play Ohio State on Mar. 4.