There were just eight minutes left in the game and despite 17th-ranked Maryland being a player up for most of the second half, they were still down, 2-1. Then senior Hayley Brock took over.
In the 83rd minute she corralled a flip pass from sophomore Ashley Spivey, dodged around Wildcats senior goalkeeper Jami Kranich on the right, and slotted it in to tie the score. Under two minutes later she settled the ball in the left side of the Terrapins defensive end and charged forward. She kept the ball despite open players on either side of her, brought it toward the top right corner of the box, and again fired it in to give Maryland the lead. And as if that weren’t enough, she drove in on a clearance by Maryland sophomore goalkeeper Rachelle Beanlands, got behind her mark, again got around Kranich and put the ball in from a tough angle on the right. According to the official scoresheet, the hat trick took her all of four minutes and fourteen seconds.
The late goals turned around a game that had not been going Maryland’s way, at least not on the scoreboard where it counted. In the 19th minute, Villanova sophomore Reanna Marino pounced on a Maryland turnover, made a run down the right, and fired it into the lower left corner. Four minutes later Wildcats freshman Katie Martin outdueled sophomore defender Erika Nelson to a ball over the top. Beanlands could have come out and likely stopped the whole business in its tracks but uncharacteristically stayed back until Martin was through. She then came out, but that just gave Martin the chance to get around her and put the ball away.
Maryland got one back in the 40th minute when junior Cory Ryan took a ball from sophomore Shannon Collins, drove to the end line, and then fired it to her right from what seemed like an impossible angle, but somehow it slipped between Kranich and the near post.
At the half the score was 2-1 in favor of the visitors despite the home team outshooting them 10-2, with Kranich – who’s played for the US U-20 and U-23 national teams – called upon to make four saves.
Maryland came out strong to start the second half. Six minutes gone, and it looked like an instant replay of Villanova’s second goal, though with the teams reversed, as Brock dueled with Wildcats junior defender Kathryn Rayner and got past her. She was coming in open on goal when Rayner tripped her from behind just outside the box. No one was surprised when center referee Peter Dhima reached into his pocket, but there was surprise even from the home staff when the card that came out was red, not yellow. Even though sophomore Erika Joab’s free kick went just high, it seemed inevitable that Maryland would score enough against their shorthanded opposition to come back and win, particularly given NCAA’s rules about ties and overtime.
However, a combination of Maryland inconsistency, strong defensive play by the Wildcats – including a Lillyesque header clearance off the line by sophomore Hayley Wilson – and heroics from Kranich – most notably on a point-blank toe-poke redirect from freshman Lauren Berman on a feed from Spivey – made the suspense last until Brock started her heroics with under eight minutes to go. Kranich would finish with eight saves to Beanlands’ one, with Maryland firing 22 shots in all to Villanova’s 4.
Maryland stays at home to play George Mason on Friday and Navy on Sunday, with both games at 7, then heads out west to play Santa Clara and Stanford the following weekend.
Villanova, by contrast, plays on the road that weekend, Friday at 7 against Drexel, and Sunday at 1 against Lehigh.