By Devin Dae Tucker
College Park, Md. – The Maryland women’s soccer team fell to the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers, 1-0, in their Big Ten opener Friday night in front of a crowd of 1,189.
The Terps (5-4-0 overall, 0-1-0 Big Ten) allowed the lone goal of the contest in the 2nd minute to Rutgers’ Samantha Valliant. Valliant took advantage of a Terps defensive breakdown on a Rutgers fast break from midfield. Junior Madison Tiernan took control of the ball at midfield before advancing it forward to sophomore Colby Ciarrocca. Ciarrocca set up Valliant at the top of the box, and the senior sent her strike past goalkeeper Rachelle Beanlands.
“We got caught a little flatfooted in the first few minutes, like with their goal,” said defender Shannon Collins. “But they didn’t get very many opportunities, they didn’t get behind us much after that. I think [Beanlands] had a good performance and her communication behind us was crucial.
The Terrapins had their fair share of opportunities to score, but the stingy Rutgers defense flat lined any chance the Terps had. The best look Maryland had all night came in the second half when sophomore Alex Anthony received the ball in the box off a free kick from Riley Barger, but Anthony’s shot sailed over crossbar.
“There’s not much to say about it,” said Anthony on her missed opportunity. “I just had a mishit and was caught leaning back and off balance a little bit.”
Maryland also had a good opportunity in the first half that was squandered by Rutgers’ keep Casey Murphy. Junior Lisa Bianchini ripped a shot just from the left side on the edge of the box, but was deflected away by Murphy.
Rutgers (8-0-0, 1-0-0) is off to their best start in program history, while sporting an impressive streak of holding their opponents scoreless for 800 consecutive minutes to open the season.
Although the Terps were shutout, there were some positives taken away from this matchup.
“It’s tough because we have two losses in the stretch, but we’ve literally gotten better every single game,” said head coach Jonathan Morgan at the postgame interview. “Our play has gotten better, we’re playing faster, and we’re playing more collectively.”
The Terps are now in conference play, and coach Morgan has a simple message for the team after the result of Friday’s game.
“We have to stay hungry, we have to continue to keep working and I’m excited about our performance because it’s where we want to be in October,” said Morgan.
Friday’s matchup concluded a brief home stand for the Terps, as they travel to Evanston, Ill. to take on the Northwestern Wildcats (7-1-2, 1-0-1). The game is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m.