Ava Morales stepped up to the penalty mark in the 82nd minute with the opportunity to score the winning goal for Maryland women’s soccer. With her head up and eyes fixed on the net, she struck a left-footed shot that skimmed off the goalkeeper’s fingers but found the right side of the goal for her third finish of the season.

Maryland (3-1-4) barely hung on to close out conference play with its third straight win in a 1-0 victory over Binghamton (1-4-2) Sunday in Vestal, New York. Coach Meghan Ryan Nemzer’s squad has scored four goals in their last three matches and notched four consecutive clean sheets.

The Terps couldn’t produce on the offensive end to start the match. Maryland turned over the ball to Binghamton via missed passes and uncanny giveaways in the midfield, and the Bearcats created promising opportunities towards the net in turn. Binghamton registered three corner kicks in the first half, while Maryland couldn’t generate any.

“I think going on the road, it’s always tough to get a win,” Catherine DeRosa said. “… I think everyone can speak that today wasn’t the most beautiful game of soccer but it doesn’t matter because we got the result at the end of the day.”

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Peyton Bernard and Isabelle DiPrima attempted to play a quick one-touch passing sequence in the 19th minute. DiPrima’s pass, aimed at a running Bernard, was read and taken away by a Binghamton defender around midfield. The Bearcats generated a dangerous attack and played the ball into the goal box before winning a corner kick.

Maryland’s best opportunity of the first half came in the 43rd minute. Kennedy Bell drove a long through ball over the Binghamton backline. Kelsey Smith received the pass and nearly tapped the rolling ball past Bearcats goalkeeper Kaitlyn Williams. Yet, Williams swallowed it up before it could trickle closer to the net.

Smith’s effort wasn’t enough to put the Terps ahead at halftime, as the teams ended the first half scoreless. Maryland earned two shots to Binghamton’s three, but neither registered a shot on target.

The second half began in a different fashion. The Terps controlled the majority of possession in Binghamton’s defensive half, pushing the ball up the field with stronger communication and vision.

“I felt we made some adjustments to sort of count their counter,” Nemzer said. “… I thought that we showed a lot of grit … it took some time to get our legs moving a little bit in that first half.”

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Morales, coming off goals in back-to-back matches, registered a shot and delivered a dangerous cross that was pulled in by Williams in under a minute. Morales’ vision up and down the pitch provided Maryland with dangerous scoring opportunities and strong transitions from defense to offense smoothly.

The sophomore would end up making the difference in Sunday’s game. Hannah Schapiro found a shot window nearing the top of the box. Her powerful shot struck the hand of a Binghamton defender in the box, and the Terps were awarded their first penalty kick of the season.

That’s when Morales stepped up to the spot and found the back of the net to give the Terps’ a 1-0 lead with just less than nine minutes remaining. Nemzer said she was most proud of the team’s resiliency in Sunday’s victory.

“I don’t know when I first got here, if we would have walked out today with a win, I think maybe it just would have been a tie or something like that,” Nemzer said.

Maryland’s defense put up a high-pressing Bearcat offense. Binghamton sent a long through ball over the Terps’ backline in the 66th minute. In a foot race, Halle Johnson managed to break up the one-on-one opportunity with her speed, just barely clearing the ball out for a throw in deep in the defensive third.

Goalkeeper Liz Beardsley secured one save in her fifth clean sheet of the season. Beardsley read high flying crosses into the box and was assisted by an organized defensive line in front of her.

“We always say that we want to block more shots than our goalkeeper,” DeRosa said. “… It wasn’t pretty at all times but we did that and that’s our job, to protect shots from going on net and obviously if we allow a shot, Liz is there to save it.”