Back in the spring and summer of 2012, the Chesapeake Charge faced the likes of the Boston Breakers, Chicago Red Stars, and Western New York Flash with a roster that included five players who had yet to attend their high school senior prom at the start of the season. Three of those players – Riley Barger, Alexis Prior-Brown, and Ashley Spivey – had signed with Maryland.
It’s now coming up on four years later. Spivey transferred to Central Florida, and Prior-Brown, plagued by injuries, has used up only one year of her NCAA eligibility despite being in her fourth year of schooling. Barger, though, is one of a bumper crop of seniors who have defined an era at Maryland. She and seven others were honored this evening. The most notable names are Canadian Rachelle Beanlands , who has set Maryland records for games started and played by a goalkeeper, and defender Shannon Collins, who has started every game for Maryland (78 so far) since she joined the program. The rest: defenders Amanda Gerlitz and Kayla Shea, and midfielders Erika Joab, Maisie McCune, and Sarah Molina.
Unfortunately, it was a typical night for Maryland: the defense held out against a strong attack, but the offense was nowhere to be found. Wisconsin earned a corner kick in the 81st minute. Kinley McNicoll sent it into the goalmouth, where McKenna Meuer headed it down to Micaela Powers, who put it away. The single goal was all the Badgers needed to clinch a share of the Big Ten championship.
The first half was definitely more Wisconsin’s than Maryland’s, with the visitors outshooting the home team 12-4, though as Terps head coach Jonathan Morgan pointed out, many of the Badgers shots were from distance. “With Rachelle Beanlands in goal, I don’t mind that at all.”
In the second half, he switched the team from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2 formation, creating more of a presence in the midfield, and shots ended up even then, 7 to 7.
Maryland’s only solid chance of the entire match came in the 41st minute, when substitute forward Madison Turner fired a shot from just outside the box that Caitlyn Clem had to leap to tip over the bar.
The result drops Maryland to 6-11-1 overall and 1-8-1 in the Big 10, tied for last place. It’s rather a drop for a team that used to be competitive in the soccer-strong ACC.
On a happier note, there was one more Chesapeake Charge alumna participating in the match, though on the other side. Marisa Kresge was a redshirted Maryland freshman going into the WPSL-Elite season, not quite as young as some of the others. After a second year with the Terrapins, she transferred to Wisconsin. With the Terrapins joining the Badgers in the Big 10, she finally had a chance to return to Ludwig Field, this time as part of the visiting team.
“It was very interesting being back,” she said. “It was great. I was so excited when we got to Maryland at Maryland this year. It was awesome being back home. It just had a bit of a different feel since last time I was on the field.”
I asked what it was like to play against players she’s played with before. “It was different because I text them, I talk to them still.” [Trash talk?] “No, not so much, except at the end when I kicked the ball away. They weren’t very happy. No, it’s a good relationship, which is pretty cool. It’s great to play against them. They’re still my friends. It’s a good battle. We had a lot of fun tonight, I think.
“I transferred to Wisconsin because of soccer. My club coach actually knew the coach here at Wisconsin, and I was open to transferring, and I really liked her. She was the real reason I came to Wisconsin, and I think I made the best decision of my life coming here. It turned out great. I couldn’t be happier. I got everything I wanted out of college soccer. It’s been a great experience thus far.”
Nearing the end of her NCAA playing career and expecting to graduate in the spring, she’s now looking toward the future. “I’m hoping to get into coaching. I would love to get a grad position somewhere, a volunteer position somewhere with a college program. That’s my next step because playing would only be for fun and only like summer league or something like that. So I want to go into coaching and hopefully an opportunity presents itself.”
She’s majored in kinesiology and is also getting a teaching degree, which should be good preparation. And she seems to be well on her way already: earlier this year she was one of only ten women in the country to receive an H.E.R. (Health & Education Resources) Coaching Scholarship from the Elite Clubs National League.