Jlon Flippens had to go a long way down the field to meet Alyssa Poarch after the forward put away the second goal of Sunday’s game for Maryland women’s soccer.
Moments earlier, Flippens launched the ball down the field to Poarch as she fought for positioning with the Minnesota defender marking her. Poarch took control of the ball, left her marker in the dust and finished a ball on the far side of Golden Gophers goalkeeper Maddie Nielsen.
As the two players met to celebrate, it marked the second time in three games they had linked up for a goal. Poarch’s effort Sunday put the finishing touches on the Terps’ 2-0 win over Minnesota, giving Maryland its first conference win of the season.
“It was definitely a great rebound from Friday’s performance,” Flippens said. “We want to keep this momentum going and be as cohesive and organized as possible. We can do great things, we just have to do it together.”
Maryland (5-3-2) entered Sunday’s matchup coming off a 3-0 defeat to Wisconsin, a loss that ended the Terps’ undefeated streak at home in 2019. Maryland came out with a different lineup than it has typically played to accommodate six of the eight seniors on Senior Day.
The two seniors not in the starting lineup were Niven Hegeman, who is out with injury, and Erin Seppi, who is the regular starter for the Terps. Midfielders Brynn Drury and Kate Swetz, along with goalkeeper Andi Wenck, all posted their first starts of the season.
The Gophers (1-7-2) pressured the unusual lineup for the Terps early on, forcing a save out of Wenck. Minnesota nearly put themselves up on a corner kick, but the header from Paige Elliot went well over the net.
In the sixth minute, coach Ray Leone took off the three new senior starters, putting in regulars Seppi and midfielders Erin Sefcik and Adalee Broadbent. And shortly after the change, Flippens took a Maryland free kick from 20 yards outside the box and found Mikayla Dayes, who didn’t waste the early chance, putting the Terps up 1-0.
“We’re just trying to focus on finishing every chance that we get, and just capitalizing on those chances,” Dayes said.
Chances were not common throughout the rest of the half. But the Gophers nearly broke Maryland’s lead late in the opening 45 minutes. A free kick found the head of Emily Bunnell, and she flicked the ball past Seppi. The linesman ruled the Minnesota midfielder was offside, however, disallowing the score.
There were injury concerns, too, but neither knock appeared serious. Flippens, who missed last season with a torn ACL, missed a few minutes of action yet returned for the majority of the outing. And midfielder Hope Lewandoski also picked up a bump, running into the barricade on the near side of the field as she attempted to track down a pass. After she was tended to, she reentered the contest, too.
“They were strong-minded and strong physically today,” Leone said. “When you get that combination, anything can happen.”
The Terps opened the second half with a familiar scene of Flippens sending a long ball to Poarch down the near side, which she controlled and took past her defender. And Poarch finished the chance just inside the far post to double the Maryland lead.
The goal put Poarch back as the top goal scorer for the team while Flippens extended her lead at the top of the assists category for the Terps with her fourth in just three games.
The Gophers began to challenge the Terps soon after. Minnesota found its way into the box numerous times, recording five shots in fifteen minutes. Defender Alana Dressely accounted for two shots that both hit the crossbar.
As the Gophers struggled with finishing, the Terps slowed down their play, taking time to find their shot. And despite racking up 17 shots, Minnesota only managed to put three on target, letting Maryland ride out its 2-0 lead to its first conference victory of the year.
“What a performance,” Leone said. “It just shows their resolve. They were really down about their play on Friday, and to come back and do this in these types of conditions and heat, was really amazing.”