When Maryland women’s soccer drew UCF 1-1 on Thursday, coach Ray Leone said he was pleased with his team’s performance against a quality opponent just a week before the beginning of Big Ten play.
In that matchup, the Terps’ offense showed signs of improving. Midfielder Hope Lewandoski ended a goal drought of roughly 364 minutes with a second-half score. The end product didn’t translate to Maryland’s game against George Washington on Sunday night, though.
With five minutes remaining in the second overtime, forward Mikayla Dayes seemed poised to secure the Terps a victory, just to have her attempt saved. Then, with seconds remaining, Lewandoski flicked a shot off the post and missed wide after rebounding her own attempt.
Maryland’s pressure didn’t start until the final 20 minutes of regulation against George Washington, and it again took time during overtime to rekindle an offensive spark. But even then, despite a bevy of chances on goal, the Terps couldn’t find a late breakthrough as they tied the Colonials, 0-0.
“I think we were just making better choices [offensively],” Leone said. “Being more dangerous on the attack instead of so conservative. …I felt we really turned it [on in] that second half.”
While both squads combined for 14 shots in the first half, neither side posed a significant threat. Most shots flew toward the goalkeepers from well outside the box and Maryland and George Washington hardly held possession for long.
Throughout the first half, though, defender Jenna Surdick proved to be a solid backline presence, frequently cutting off through balls meant to find the feet of Colonial attackers before they could pressure goalkeeper Rachel Egyed.
“I think the [defense] did awesome,” Egyed said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better effort. They put everything out there.”
While Maryland’s defense absorbed George Washington’s chances, its offense struggled to produce strong opportunities on the other end. With 24 minutes remaining in regulation, forward Alyssa Poarch took the Terps’ first corner kick of the game. A minute later, Maryland midfielder Malikae Dayes sent the team’s first shot of the second half wide left.
Mikayla Dayes only had two shot attempts the whole night, but both came in the overtime, including her saved effort with time dwindling.
“I had a better mindset,” Dayes said. “I was like, ‘I’m going to open up myself more, press every ball and just try my best to get as many shots as I can and help my teammates.'”
Despite a flurry of chances on the offensive end late for Maryland, the Terps seemed to be stuck in the same mire they had been during their three-game scoreless stretch before playing UCF.
Colonials forward Sofia Pavon slowed the Terps’ offensive momentum late in regulation with a 30-yard rip on goal that beat Egyed, but it hit the crossbar. The near-miss broke a string of 10 consecutive shots for the Terps late in the second half.
Then, in between chances from Mikayla Dayes and Lewandoski late in overtime, Egyed made a leaping save on another strike from Pavon to preserve her clean sheet.
With the scoreless draw on Sunday, the Terps enter conference play next week with some uncertainty after the promising performance against UCF.
“I’m not happy with the result, but I’m trying to be happy with the process that we’re playing faster, better, hungrier and fitter,” Leone said. “So I’m really excited about… where we are now compared to last year going into the Big Ten.”