Maryland women’s soccer’s final road trip of the season ended with it allowing eight goals and scoring none of its own — punctuated by a blowout 5-0 loss to Iowa on Sunday.
The Terps’ lack of communication gifted the Hawkeyes countless offensive opportunities — Maryland hasn’t scored in its last eight games.
Maryland (3-8-5, 0-7-1 Big Ten) remains at the bottom of the conference. The top eight teams in the Big Ten will make the conference tournament. The Terps are nine points behind the current No. 8 team in the Big Ten, Ohio State, and are mathematically eliminated from a postseason berth.
The Terps struggled with injuries. They were without defender Halle Johnson. Freshman Kennedy Bell played with a tape-wrapped leg — coach Meghan Ryan Nemzer said she was playing “on half of a leg.”
Nemzer still felt the team’s executed tactics didn’t align well enough to find success.
“We spoke about a few areas that we need to be better at not losing the ball,” Nemzer said. “Iowa just took that and ran with it.”
The Hawkeyes grabbed their lead In the fourth minute after gaining possession off a poor Terps passing sequence. Kelli McGroarty dribbled through the Terps’ midfield and slid a through ball to Elle Otto. Goalkeeper Liz Beardsley surged out of her net, allowing Otto to dribble past her and tap the ball for the score.
Iowa’s offensive success continued. Maggie Johnston sent a ball into the penalty box off a near-midfield free kick. Millie Greer tipped the ball of her head to Groarty, who dove to head the ball into the bottom left corner of the goal.
The Terps couldn’t generate offensive opportunities. Maryland’s passes rarely arrived on target, instead going in front of or behind teammates for turnovers. Coach Meghan Ryan Nemzer’s team also had imprecise touches that pushed the ball away from a safe dribbling position.
The Hawkeyes earned 16 shots, ten on goal after exhibiting clean and consistent passing sequences that put the ball in positions to register dangerous shots. The Terps essentially did the opposite. They had just two shots and just one on goal.
Nemzer cited Iowa’s first few goals to a lack of defensive awareness.
“That speedy forward up top, she likes to split the center backs,” Nemzer said. “Thought our center backs [were] a little bit too wide and we lost track of her.”
She said Johnson’s defensive presence could have elevated the backline’s organization.
“When you miss Halle, who has really emerged as the leader for us and as far as an organizer us in the backline, those little details tend to slip,” she said.
Miscommunication and poor ball control have been issues for Maryland all year, limiting its time in the attacking third. The Terps push toward goal relied on long passes into space for attackers to run into. But Iowa (9-3-3, 3-3-2 Big Ten) repeatedly read the play to win back possession.
In the 86th minute, Sofia Vinas eyed Peyton Bernard running up the sideline. But Vinas’ pass didn’t have enough power and gave a defender time to beat Bernard to the ball and play it to an Iowa teammate.
The Hawkeyes tallied their third strike in the 36th minute off their fifth corner kick. Addie Bundy swung a cross to the near post, where Beardsley and a Hawkeye waited. Both leaped in the air and the Terps keeper accidentally knocked the ball into her own goal.
After the break, Maryland finally got an offensive opportunity with a free kick just outside the top of the penalty box. Sydney Urban’s shot fake and Lauren Wrigley’s pass set up Ava Morales with a left-footed shot. But the sophomore’s strike hit the crossbar and flew out for a goal kick.
But the Terps continued to struggle with the Hawkeyes’ press. In the 54th minute, Lisa McIntyre eyed an Iowa attacker looking to shoot in the penalty box. The freshman’s pressure tripped up the Hawkeye, awarding Iowa a penalty kick.
Josie Durr stepped up to the spot for Iowa, sliding the ball to Beardsley’s left to stretch the home team’s lead further.
Maryland went down to 10 players after Katie Coyle earned the Terps’ first red card of the season. They earned their first shot on goal despite that when Catherine DeRosa struck a distant blow off a free kick in the 77th minute.
The Hawkeyes got their 10th shot on goal and fifth score four minutes later — Sofia Bush scoring to add to the blowout loss.