(Photo courtesy of Ken L. Harriford)
Coming in, it looked to be a tight battle between two closely matched teams, with the #21 Maryland Terrapins hosting the #23 Virginia Tech Hokies in their ACC home opener. But the visitors ended up winning easily, with only strong defensive performances from Terp goalkeeper Rachelle Beanlands and defenders Shannon Collins and Shade Pratt keeping the score a seemingly close 2-0.
“They beat us in pretty much every category of the game,” said Maryland head coach Jonathan Morgan. “We didn’t put together passes. We didn’t defend very well as a team, just were really out-of-sorts. They did a better job coaching as well.”
Maryland’s best chance early came in the third minute on a hard shot from sophomore Ashley Spivey, but Virginia Tech goalkeeper Dayle Colpitts was right there.
Five minutes later a Hokie rush off a Maryland turnover was pushed aside by Beanlands, and the shot on the resulting corner kick went high. Maryland had another chance in the 13th minute, sending in a free kick from the left to the right post where midfielder Lauren Berman headed it just wide right. Another Terrapin turnover two minutes later had a Tech forward coming in on goal, but Collins caught up and knocked the ball away to prevent a shot. In the 20th minute, the Hokies sent a dangerous-looking ball over-the-top, but Pratt – who’s also on the track team – put on the afterburners and got to it first.
Maryland senior forward and leading scorer Hayley Brock was all but shut down by the tenacious Tech defense, but in the 26th minute she found some space at the top of the box and fired a shot in, but Colpitts was there again.
In the 38th minute the Terrapins gave up a corner kick on the right after Beanlands sent a shot over the bar. Midfielder Kelsey Loupee lined up and sent it to the near post, where senior forward Katie DeTuro headed it into the net. The half ended with the visitors up, 1-0.
Four minutes into the second half Maryland had a golden opportunity to equalize. In a play at the top right corner of the box, a Hokie defender was called for a handball. Spivey stepped up to take the penalty kick and drove it toward the lower left corner. But Colpitts guessed right and tipped it wide.
Two minutes later Beanlands made a sensational reaction save, sending a ball that was redirected at the last moment over the bar, to keep the deficit at one. Four minutes later poor defending on a corner kick left a Virginia Tech player wide open at the top of the box, but she tripped over the ball and couldn’t get a shot off.
In the 79th minute, it was the defense’s turn to rescue Beanlands, as her clearance was intercepted and brought back in but then sent out for a corner kick. Three minutes later, the Hokies’ leading scorer, senior forward Jazmine Reeves, blew past Collins on the right and sent a ball into the box from the baseline, but no one was there to follow through on it. Reeves would not be denied, though, and in the 88th minute took a pass from Murelle Tiernan, weaved through the Terrapin defense, and fired a shot over Beanlands from about 20 yards out to make the score the final 2-0.
Virginia Tech would finish with 17 shots to Maryland’s 8 – and 9 to 1 after Spivey’s failed penalty kick. Beanlands was called upon to make a season-high 8 saves while Colpitts had to make only 3, and just one in the second half – on the PK.
“If there’s anything we’re missing right now,” said Morgan afterwards, “It’s probably our leadership, and when it’s hard, how to dig ourselves out of this. I think it’s really what’s kind of separating us.”
Maryland was also missing some key players. Defender Erika Nelson has been out with an injury, and forward Gabby Galanti after making a strong start to the year tore her ACL and is gone for the season. But Morgan said you can’t use that as an excuse. “Everybody has injuries. Everybody has somebody missing. The next person has to be ready to step up.”
Maryland – now 5-3 overall and 1-1 in the ACC – has a quick turnaround to face Wake Forest – currently ranked #3 in the country – on Sunday at 1 pm. When asked how the team rebounds for a tough match after a tough loss, Morgan said he saw it as an opportunity. “It’s the ACC. You’re going to have some tough losses like tonight, but you’re also going to have the opportunity to have a great result on the next day. Wake Forest won tonight against Duke, 2-1. And this is a great opportunity for us. You can’t feel sorry for yourself in this league. There’s too many opportunities, too many good teams that you have to play.”
Brock had a similar attitude. “We know that if we come out and we play well that we can hang with any team no matter what their rank is in the country. I think everyone is just trying to erase this game out of their memory and pretend like it didn’t happen and move on and get ready for Wake Forest.”
Virginia Tech – 7-1-1 overall, 2-1-0 ACC – continues north to face Boston College, also Sunday at 1 pm.