COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Redshirt sophomore Alex Doody stole the show on “Senior Night,” tallying her first career multi-goal game to lead the University of Maryland women’s soccer team past Pittsburgh, 3-1, Thursday night at Ludwig Field.
“We responded really well in the second half, playing with a greater sense of urgency,” said Maryland head coach Jonathan Morgan. “We came out with a much better scoring mentality and that resulted with us finishing three opportunities in the second half, all of which came from our forwards who really played well.”
Maryland had numerous quality scoring opportunities in the opening 45 minutes, but could not get on the board despite a 10-0 lead in shots.
Sophomore Aubrey Baker had the first good chance for the Terps in the ninth minute. After picking the ball cleanly from a Panther defender just at the edge of Pitt’s defensive third, she found some space in front of her. The Panthers’ defense recovered quickly, but Baker was able to get off a good effort from 24 yards that just went over the crossbar.
Senior Hayley Brock, who was aggressive all evening long and led all players with eight shots, had her first scoring chance in the 14th minute when senior Megan Gibbons played a nice ball into her outside of the 18, but Pitt keeper Taylor Francis was there to make the save and keep Brock and the Terps off the board.
Just a minute after that Doody was taken down hard on the left side of the box just six yards from the end line. Gibbons sent the free kick hard and low into the box, but it deflected off of a Panther defender for a corner. Sophomore Shannon Collins sent the corner into the box from the far right. It got through the defense and redshirt sophomore Amanda Gerlitz appeared to have a clear run to the ball, but couldn’t quite catch up to it and it skidded away to end the threat.
Doody and Brock showed good chemistry working together up top and that came through in the 23rd minute when Brock sent a through ball for Doody into the Panthers’ 18-yard box. Doody got behind the defenders, but Francis came charging out and took Doody down hard sliding for the ball, but no whistle came from the official.
Maryland appeared to have gotten the whistle for a penalty kick in the 31st minute when Brock was taken down with a slide tackle a step inside the 18, but the official spotted the foul at the beginning of the slide, which was just outside the penalty box. Freshman Maren Knudsen stepped up to take the free kick, but her effort went off the Panthers’ wall and away from danger.
The Terrapins came out of the intermission determined to get on the board and the ice-breaker came in the 51st minute. Senior Kristen Schmidbauer slotted a ball for Doody on the left side and she finished with a solid strike into the lower left corner to put the Terps up 1-0.
After getting that first one Doody was looking for more in the 54th minute. She got in alone behind the Pitt back line, but her shot went off of Francis and trickled to the right of the net. Doody collected the rebound and laced another shot. That one looked to have found the open net, but a Pitt defender stepped in front just before it got to the line and cleared it away.
Brock kept charging at the Pitt goal looking to give the Terps a two-goal lead and nearly had it in the 61st minute. Sophomore Riley Barger played a good ball into Brock, who ripped a shot at the right side of the net. Francis reacted just in time to deflect that ball away and keep it a 1-0 Maryland lead.
But Brock wasn’t to be denied and she finally put the Terps up 2-0 in the 65th minute. After stealing the ball inside the Panthers’ defensive third, Brock took a couple of touches before driving the ball into the lower right corner. Francis tried to make a play, but couldn’t do anything about this one as it found the back of the net.
Maryland looked to have the game firmly in hand, but another goal outside of the run of play cut its lead back to one. A Panther throw in came to Ella Vanhanen outside the Maryland 18 and she tried to get off a shot, but it was knocked out of the air by a Maryland defender. The problem was the spin of the ball sent it high toward the Terrapin goal and it sailed over the outstretched arms of Maryland keeper Rachelle Beanlands.
The Terps weren’t satisfied by trying to hold on to a 2-1 lead and continued to attack the Pitt goal. Freshman Lauren Berman had a try from distance in the 80th minute and Doody got on the end of a corner kick from Collins in the 86th with a good header, but Francis was there to make her eighth and ninth saves of the match to keep it a one-goal game.
It was Brock and Doody connecting in the 88th minute that sealed the deal for the Terps. Brock made another steal, this time near midfield. As she has done so often this season, she then outraced the entire opposing defense, driving the ball down the right side. She didn’t settle for a low-angle shot as Francis had come out to cut down the angle. Instead she played a cross back across the face of the goal for a streaking Doody, who finished easily into a wide open net for the 3-1 Maryland lead.
“I’m really proud of the effort and performance of Alex tonight,” said Morgan. “She is an incredibly hard worker and it’s good to see that rewarded with a couple of goals.”
The match was also the final regular season home game for five Terrapin seniors – Kayla Clarke, Brock, Gibbons, Alex Reed and Schmidbauer – each of whom started the match and played big roles in the victory.
“It’s always nice to see the see the seniors start, but it’s especially nice to see them play well,” said Morgan. “It’s a tradition here that the seniors start their last match at Ludwig and we’re glad to send them off with a win and a chance to play in the ACC tournament on Sunday.”
The victory, combined with Wake Forest’s 2-1 loss to NC State, sends the Terrapins into the ACC tournament with a 10-9-0 overall record and a 6-7-0 mark in conference play.
Maryland will be the No. 8 seed and will play at No. 1 seed Virginia on Sunday, Nov. 3 at Klöckner Stadium.