Maia Cella beat one defender. Then another. Then a third. The Wisconsin midfielder got to the byline, leaving three Maryland players in her wake. Without breaking stride, she flicked a ball into the box, floating it onto the right foot of Emma Jaskaniec, who couldn’t miss from a few yards out.
It was the first of two well-worked goals in the space of four minutes for the Badgers — a deficit Maryland women’s soccer couldn’t claw back from.
It was a frustrating contest for the Terps, where they registered little offense in poor conditions. And despite an organized effort, they fell to Wisconsin, 2-0.
Entering Thursday’s matchup, Maryland had left a trail of losses behind it. And the Terps looked to use the game against the Badgers to finally change the course of their 2021 season.
But for all of the motivation, wins have proved elusive. A late goal here, a missed chance there, for all of Maryland’s huffing and puffing, it has struggled to break through the ceiling.
And unfortunately for the Terps, the Badgers were well prepared to defend their home territory. Wisconsin asserted its influence on the game early, scoring a goal in the seventh minute.
Cella dribbled up the right side of the field, beating multiple defenders, before looking up for a cross. She delivered an accurate cross — sending the ball right across the net. Jaskaniec, posted directly in front of the goal, simply volleyed it in.
Less than four minutes later, history repeated itself, and the Badgers grabbed another goal.
This time, it was forward Cameron Murtha who found the net for Wisconsin — with an assist by Lauren Rice. And it was another simple one, as Rice floated a ball into the box for an easy header.
It could have been worse for the Terps. Coming off a 1-0 loss to Iowa in which it generated very little offense, coach Ray Leone’s squad went through a similarly languid first half. Maryland was constantly on the back foot, registering only one shot to Wisconsin’s 10. And had it not been for two saves from Krista Varrichione, the Terps could have been trailing by more.
The beginning of the second half appeared much more promising.
An early Alyssa Poarch attempt soared over the net. A shot by Mikayla Dayes to the bottom left corner was saved by Badgers goalkeeper Jordyn Bloomer.
Although neither of those attempts were successful, the game looked a far more even contest.
The Terps’ defense appeared more solid, too. Midway through the second half, Maryland made multiple stops to keep the ball out of their own net. Wisconsin peppered Maryland with four shots in five minutes, but none found the back of the net.
The Badgers put pressure on the Terps’ defense and took several more shots, but were unable to score any additional goals.
Still, Maryland could not cut into Wisconsin’s lead. In the last ten minutes, the Terps became frantic and charged up the field, desperate to equalize the score.
Midfielders Loren Sefcik and Madison Oracion each attempted a shot, both directed toward the bottom center of the net. And both were easily saved by Bloomer.
Dayes attempted another shot as well, but it proved inaccurate and soared over the top of the net.
That would be all Maryland could muster, unable to overcome its early-game toils to drop yet another tight contest. With zero wins in nine games, this wasn’t a position the Terps were expecting to be in at the start of the year.
But as Maryland dejectedly trudged off the turf, the reality of the situation kicked in. The Terps, for all their fight and determination, were bested once more. Cella and Jaskaniec’s combination play had mystified Maryland in the game’s opening minutes.
Now, it was mystified once more, still looking to figure out how to stop this lengthy losing run.