Less than three minutes into the Maryland women’s soccer team’s 4-0 loss to Ohio State on Thursday night, Maryland midfielder Hope Gouterman, the Terps’ lone senior defensive threat, stood just outside of the box. Defender Jlon Flippens stood beside her.
As Flippens reset the defense and the Buckeyes came together on their side of their field cheering and clapping their hands, Gouterman demanded the Terps “bring the energy right here.”
Ohio State had recorded a pair of goals in a span of 71 seconds, the fastest any team has scored consecutive goals against an inexperienced Terps backline this season.
While the Terps fell to Michigan State and Michigan over the weekend, coach Ray Leone wasn’t discouraged. He just wanted Maryland to maintain possession long enough to create offensive opportunities.
Though the Terps attempted five shots in each half, Maryland’s chances were limited. Often, Maryland’s defense left a Buckeyes offensive player open in the box, and Ohio State capitalized.
“What we saw tonight isn’t something that we haven’t already been addressing and going through,” Leone said. “This is a poor performance. There’s no hiding that. We made mistakes and they ended up being in the goal every time.”
From the outset, the Buckeyes controlled the tempo of the game, so much so that with 15 minutes remaining in the opening period, the Maryland sideline yelled “keep it cleaner, higher intensity.” In the second minute, Buckeyes forward Lindsay Agnew stood alone on the left side of the box. She attempted a cross and the subsequent shot was saved, but seconds later she deposited the ball into the center of the net.
Then, midfielder Emma Firenze fielded and shot a rebound on a corner kick. Quickly, the Terps found themselves trailing, a common theme in several of their losses this season.
“I think we just need to be more organized defensively,” midfielder Madison Turner said. “The possession will come. We need to focus on keeping the ball out of the net.”
After trailing by a pair of goals early, Maryland still had more than 87 minutes to strike. But against the Buckeyes, one of the more aggressive and faster teams the Terps have faced, there were few opportunities.
The Terps’ best offensive chance came with about 14 minutes remaining in the first, when defender Jlon Flippens’ free kick deflected off an Ohio State player and nearly bounced into the net. It missed just wide.
For the second time in as many games, Maryland entered the intermission having been outshot and trailing by a pair of goals.
“We need to man mark a lot better,” defender Niven Hegeman said. “The [Buckeyes players were] like wide open. We could have had someone right on them. There was one time where the girl was wide open and all we had to do was yell at the midfielder to come back. The communication needs to be a lot better.”
In the second half, little changed for Maryland’s defense.
By the time Ohio State forward Sammy Edwards scored twice within a span of about three minutes fewer than 15 minutes into the half, the Buckeyes had all but secured the win.
Maryland often exits the field quickly after home games, but Thursday, Leone kept his team on the field and insisted they “stay together.” As the Terps prepare to host reigning national champion Penn State on Sunday afternoon, the issues he plans to address haven’t changed.
From his perspective, that’s problematic.
“We haven’t been consistent enough in keeping teams in the spot that they’re already in,” Leone said. “It’s too much running. That’s what takes away from possession because all you’re doing is running.”