Coach Meghan Ryan Nemzer has emphasized being one percent better every day to her squad this season.
Maryland women’s soccer’s 1-0 win over Michigan proved to be the culmination of all of its training. The victory broke the squad’s Big Ten winless streak after more than 1000 days and was the Terps’ first win over the Wolverines in program history.
“It started in preseason, it just didn’t start this week,” Nemzer said.
The victory marked the first in the conference for many Terps’ players. Even players who have been at Maryland for multiple seasons such as Catherine DeRosa didn’t experience a Big Ten win until Friday night.
“It means everything, you saw how we celebrated. It was like we had just won the World Cup,” goalkeeper Madeline Smith said. “We love this, we want to keep this going.”
Despite the celebrations, Nemzer and her squad continue to demand more performances like this from themselves.
“This can’t be a one-off gig,” Nemzer said. “What else can we do to now build upon this?”
Friday marked the second consecutive shutout for Maryland, and the third it’s notched overall this season.
The Terps’ backline proved itself against a talented Wolverines’ team. Michigan forward Sammi Woods came into the game as the top scorer in the conference but failed to register a single shot in her 71 minutes of action.
Woods frequently battled against Amanda Schafer for the night, a reliable piece in Nemzer’s backline. Schafer filled in at defense even though midfield is her primary position.
Her start against Michigan marks her third in a row this year and she logged a full 90 minutes for the second time.
“Amanda is unbelievable. She’s definitely team over individual,” Nemzer said after Schafer’s performance last week against Saint Joseph’s. “What she does for us on the defensive side is unbelievable.”
Offensively the Terps found a spark they’ve lacked at times this year. Maryland was outshot by Michigan in the first half by one but finished the game with one more shot than their opponents. Alyssa Poarch led Maryland with three shots while Mikayla Dayes added two more and the game-winning goal.
Nemzer emphasized the need to create better offensive opportunities heading into Friday’s match. Her squad recorded seven shots in the second half compared to just three in the first.
Heading into the season, Maryland was ranked 13th in the Big Ten Women’s Soccer Preseason Poll, while Michigan was ranked third. Despite the gulf in public recognition, the Terps entered and exited the game with confidence and didn’t discredit their own performance.
“It wasn’t by accident,” Nemzer said.
With the game tied at halftime, she rallied her team to give them the requisite belief that they’d emerge victorious.
“Winners know why they win,” she said. “Let’s make sure we know, at the end of the 45 minutes, why we’re gonna win.”