Mikayla Dayes pushed through the Ohio State defenders with grace, setting herself up to take a shot that could change the course of Maryland women’s soccer’s season.
She ran into the box, and meticulously placed the ball into the Buckeyes net. The Terps’ immediately erupted in celebratory cheering — for the first time in a long time, a victory seemed on the horizon.
But that wouldn’t happen. Coach Ray Leone’s side was knocked back by a late first-half screamer. And Ohio State pounced in the second, using clinical finishing to race to a 4-2 win, ending the Terps’ season.
After a winless regular season campaign, Thursday’s match offered a last chance for Maryland to claim a victory. It seemed unlikely given their opposition: the second-seeded Buckeyes, who claimed a 3-1 victory over Leone’s squad on March 4.
But Maryland showed no signs of a team that hadn’t won a game — at least, in the early stages.
With the loud and opinionated Buckeyes fan section as additional fuel, the Terps asserted themseleves.
Maryland’s defenders held steady in the box against Ohio State’s powerful offense, at times, even a little too aggressively. Malikae Dayes served as a vital defender for Terps’, her aggressive style of play drew the referee’s whistle at times, granting the Buckeyes additional chances.
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With less than ten minutes left in the first half, a foul by Malikae Dayes gave Ohio State a free kick a few yards outside the box.
Izzy Rodriguez took the strike, flashing the ball toward goals. But goalkeeper Krista Varrichione was equal to Rodriguez’s effort, snagging the shot comfortably.
However, while this shot landed in the Terps’ favor, the Buckeyes’ next attempt would not.
Only a few minutes later, a rushed Maryland clearance earned Ohio State a corner. Rodriguez swung the ball into the box and, following a deflection, the ball bounced right into the path of forward Kayla Fischer.
Upon coming into contact with the ball, Fischer sent her right footed volley into the top corner — an unstoppable strike.
The two sides were deadlocked at one, Mikayla Dayes’ cool finish off of a Buckeyes mistake equaled by Fischer’s thunderbolt.
That strike set up an intriguing second half; one in which the Terps looked to break a winless streak, and Ohio State hoping to fend off a struggling team.
Each team had multiple chances to score from the start, with several attempts from Kalya Fisher and Mikayla Dayes — both players were looking to return for their second goal.
However, despite the efforts coming from both sides, it was the Buckeyes who finally broke the tie.
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Peyton McNamara, a major threat from Maryland’s previous game against Ohio State, drove past the Terps’ defense and sent the ball with a quick linear shot straight into the right hand corner of the net, past goalkeeper Krista Varrichione.
From there, Ohio State found its rhythm.
Five minutes later, they would score again. This time, with an impressive goal by Alyssa Baumbick — a bullet of a shot straight to the bottom right corner of the net.
The opposing fan section erupted into cheers, a hauntingly familiar sound for the Terps’, who have been playing on the road since March 21.
And it soon got worse for Maryland. McNamara added her second of the day — and Ohio State’s fourth — with a strike from 30 yards, flying past a helpless Varicchione.
With eight minutes to spare, Alyssa Poarch pulled one back for the Terps, dancing past a Buckeyes defender before neatly placing the ball into the corner of the net.
But the celebrations were muted this time around. The deficit was a little too large, the margins a bit too fine. Maryland couldn’t secure a shock end-of-season victory, finishing its conference campaign winless for the first time in nearly 30 years.
While they were unable to secure a victory, their final game was a beautiful representation of a season well-fought, by a team with a great deal of talent — but one not good enough to show it over 90 minutes.