As the clock ticked down to the final minutes of Maryland women’s soccer’s Sunday game, Ohio State got the ball wide and swung a cross in.
An unmarked Kailyn Dudukovich strode into the box and headed in Ohio State’s winner with just 96 seconds left.
The defensive breakdown cost the Terps their Big Ten opener late, but Ohio State caused problems for Maryland’s defense all game.
Improving the defense is a key focus for Maryland this week, as it prepares for two crucial Big Ten matchups at Ludwig Field.
“I think we’re going to defend a lot better,” coach Ray Leone said. “In the transition moments, I think that’s something that stuck out to our team, and just concentrating through the later stages of the game.”
The Buckeyes’ Kayla Fischer caused a lot of problems out wide for the Terps. The direct winger constantly beat Maryland’s defenders by taking a shot herself or delivering a dangerous ball into the box, with the latter resulting in the Buckeyes’ first goal.
Maryland hopes it won’t see a repeat of those problems this week, especially against a physical Nebraska team.
“They’re very athletic, they’re very committed,” Leone said. “They’re always a difficult team for anyone in the Big Ten to play. So we’re gonna have to be skillful, and we’re gonna have to move the ball.”
Both of Maryland’s upcoming opponents, Nebraska and Northwestern, lost their opening Big Ten games last week, but the Terps have had trouble against both teams in the past.
The Terps have not beaten Nebraska in its short history, going 0-3 against the Cornhuskers since Maryland joined the Big Ten.
Maryland hasn’t had much luck against Northwestern either, holding a 1-4-1 record against the Wildcats. However, the Terps produced an impressive win last time the teams met in College Park, pulling off a 2-1 victory over a Northwestern team ranked No. 14 at the time.
Leone’s squad is confident they can count on their goalkeepers, though. Liz Brucia and Madeline Smith both shined against Ohio State, helping keep the game close.
The two goalkeepers produced four saves each against the Buckeyes, including multiple impressive stops that kept the Terps in the game.
Both keepers have been used in tandem since Smith was medically cleared to play before Maryland’s game against Penn, with Brucia playing the first half and Smith playing the second half.
Leone has been impressed by the pair of transfers so far, and he plans to continue using both goalies.
“They’re doing amazing,” Leone said. “At this point, if we picked one, the other one is not going to be ready. We’re fortunate that we have two really fantastic goalkeepers, so we’re going to keep riding this thing.”