In the moments following Maryland women’s soccer forward Jarena Harmon’s first-half score against then-No. 14 Northwestern on Sunday, midfielder Anissa Mose leapt into the senior‘s arms in celebration of the crucial strike.
Later in the game, Maryland’s offense stalled, and the Terps turned to goalkeeper Rachel Egyed to preserve the lead. And just as Harmon had in the 16th minute, Egyed stepped up on her Senior Day.
On a corner kick midway through the second half, the redshirt senior rose high above the Northwestern attackers encircling her and punched the ball away from danger. Two minutes later, she made an athletic diving stop on a blistering attempt off the foot of midfielder Marisa Viggiano, preserving Maryland’s narrow lead.
Aided by an emotional boost from Senior Day, the Terps’ seniors produced one of their best performances of the season en route to a 2-1 upset over Northwestern, and they did it against their highest ranked opponent of the season.
“It’s what your teammates expect, for you to give everything,” Harmon said. “We had a good game against a really good team. I just feel good.”
For the majority of the season, Maryland has struggled to find the back of the net. In 15 games, the Terps have scored a Big Ten low 14 goals and .93 goals per game.
So when Harmon broke the first-half deadlock with her team-high sixth goal of the season, she gave her team a boost of confidence against a favored Wildcats squad.
Midfielder Loren Sefcik added another score about 20 minutes later, Maryland’s first time scoring multiple goals before halftime this season. Although the team was outshot 11-5 during the first 45 minutes, Harmon’s impressive goal seemed to stun the Wildcats, who struggled to immediately respond.
Maryland’s attack sputtered in the second half, and Northwestern cut into the 2-0 lead with a goal in the 54th minute, putting further pressure on Egyed and the rest of the defense.
Northwestern rallied with 10 second-half shots, but the goalkeeper rose to the occasion and made five saves in the period.
Egyed has rebounded after allowing three goals in an ugly 3-0 loss to Minnesota on Sept. 28, including one routine shot that went between her legs. Her Senior Day performance was arguably her most impressive of the stretch.
The team said holding Senior Day with four games remaining rather than in the final home game helped mitigate the emotions of the ceremony, which played a role in the upset victory.
Before the Terps return for that emotional final home game, they embark on a three-game road trip beginning with Friday’s match against Penn State, so Maryland must find ways to generate positive energy away from Ludwig Field and without the boost of Senior Day.
“I’m just happy for the seniors to have this moment for themselves because they’ve been through so much,” coach Ray Leone said. “For them to have their night, and they all really brought it today, I think the team really played for them tonight.”