CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The University of Maryland women’s soccer team struck early, but couldn’t hold off No. 6 North Carolina, which came back to earn a 3-1 victory Sunday afternoon at Fetzer Field.
The Terrapins are now 7-6-0 for the season and are 3-4-0 in ACC play. The Tar Heels improve to 10-2-0 overall and 4-2-0 in the conference.
“We lost to a better team today. I'm happy with our kids fight and commitment but at the end of the day we just lost to a better soccer team,” said Maryland head coach Jonathan Morgan.
“Our team still needs to be better managing the game in regard to tempo, when to play and when not to play. Thankfully, we have a week off between games and we'll be able to spend a good amount of time teaching those moments before we play against Duke next Sunday.”
The game couldn’t have started better for Maryland as senior Hayley Brock stole the ball from a North Carolina defender and played a perfect centering pass to freshman Lauren Berman, who was then able to get off a quick shot that found the upper left corner of the UNC net to put the Terrapins up 1-0 just 17 seconds into the match.
It was the second fastest goal ever given up by the Tar Heels. Notre Dame scored just 16 seconds into the 2008 NCAA title game vs. Carolina in Cary, N.C. Coincidentally, UNC would go on to win that game as well, 2-1.
Carolina’s Crystal Dunn looked to have a golden chance inside the Maryland 18 in the 20th minute, but the Terrapin defense collectively collapsed on her and senior Megan Gibbons was able to get the ball away and clear it out of the box.
But the game turned a minute later when Dunn ripped a shot from just outside the 18 and sophomore Erika Nelson was whistled for a handball inside the box, giving the Tar Heels a penalty kick. Summer Green stepped to the spot to take the kick and sophomore keeper Rachelle Beanlands guess correctly, diving to her right, but Green’s effort was too good, bouncing just off the inside of the left post and into the net to tie the match at 1-1 apiece.
The Brock-Berman connection nearly struck again for the Terps in the 29th minute in reverse. This time it was Berman picking the ball off the foot of a UNC defender and playing a through ball for Brock. A Carolina defender got there first, but her play back to Tar Heel keeper Bryane Heaberlin wasn’t sharp and Brock made a hard challenge for the ball. Heaberlin got to it just a split-second before Brock’s sliding charge to clear the ball out of danger.
Maryland had another opportunity in the 32nd minute when a give-and-go between sophomores Ashley Spivey and Riley Barger earned the Terrapins a corner kick. Gibbons played a low ball into the box that was cleared out to the feet of junior Shade Pratt, but her try from distance couldn’t find the upper right 90.
Carolina’s Kealia Ohai had a chance inside Maryland’s 18 coming in from the left corner, but Beanlands was right with her to make a spectacular sliding save in the 33rd minute.
UNC came out flying to start the second half, but Maryland weathered the storm thanks to a pair of timely saves.
The first came off of a corner kick in the 48th minute. Katie Bowen sent it into the Terrapin box where it found the feet of Dunn, but sophomore Aubrey Baker was on the near post and made the team save to prevent the Tar Heels from taking their first lead of the game.
Dunn had another opportunity just a minute later when she had a clean look at the Maryland goal from outside the 18 and she fired a rocket looking for the upper half of the Terrapin net, but Beanlands made a sensational leaping save, tipping the ball over the crossbar.
Maryland had a look at the Carolina net on a counter attack in the 57th minute as Baker played a ball in behind the UNC defense for Barger, but her shot couldn’t get past Heaberlin.
Carolina then mounted a counter attack of its own a minute later that the Terps didn’t have an answer for. Dunn crossed the ball from the left side into the box where Ohai was waiting and finished the ball into the lower right corner to put the Tar Heels up 2-1.
Junior Cory Ryan had an opportunity for the Terps in the 60th minute, but her attempt was knocked away before getting off a shot. Ryan’s effort resulted in a corner kick opportunity for Maryland, but the Terrapins couldn’t get a shot off of Gibbons’ corner.
The Tar Heels upped their lead to 3-1 in the 73rd minute when Paige Nielson sent a corner kick into the Terrapin box. Satara Murray got on the end of it with a solid header with enough pace that Baker couldn’t clear the ball and it deflected into the Maryland net.
Beanlands finished with five saves for the Terrapins, who are off until next Sunday, Oct. 13 when they host Duke at 1 p.m. at Ludwig Field.