COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Junior Cory Ryan pulled the University of Maryland women’s soccer team to within one with her goal in the 69th minute, but the Terps could not complete the comeback effort in a 2-1 loss to Duke Sunday afternoon at Ludwig Field.
The Terrapins are now even on the season with a 7-7-0 mark and are 3-5-0 in conference play. The Blue Devils improve to 5-6-3 overall and 2-4-2 in the ACC.
“I feel pretty badly for our kids, because during our time off we worked on a lot of things and they put everything together. Unfortunately that didn’t equate to goal-scoring, but our soccer was the best it has been all season,” said Maryland head coach Jonathan Morgan. “We played really great soccer today, but we gave up two goals against the run of play and that ended up costing us. Overall I’m pleased with our effort and performance; we just didn’t get too much luck today.”
Maryland controlled much of the action in the first half and generated several quality chances, but found itself trailing 1-0 at the break.
The Terps’ first opportunity came in the 11th minute when sophomore Ashley Spivey earned a corner kick with a hard charge down the left side. Senior Megan Gibbons sent the corner kick into the box where sophomore Riley Barger got on the end of it, but her header bounced right to Duke keeper Meghan Thomas.
Maryland had another chance a minute later when freshman Lauren Berman was fouled 10 yards outside of the Duke 18 just to the left of the circle. Spivey took the free kick, but couldn’t clear the Blue Devils’ wall with her attempt at the left corner.
Spivey started the next Terrapin opportunity skillfully lifting a pass into the Duke six. Senior Hayley Brock was there and got through three Duke defenders to get off a shot, but once again Thomas was in the right spot to make the save.
The Blue Devils took the 1-0 lead in the 34th minute when Toni Payne dribbled down the right side into the Maryland 18. A pair of Terrapin defenders closed in on her, but Payne was able to get off a arching shot that looked at first to be heading harmlessly wide of the net, but the ball curled into the upper left corner.
The Blue Devils took advantage of a corner kick awarded to them that even the Duke players didn’t seem to know they earned in the 55th minute. Mollie Pathman sent the corner kick from the right corner to the back post where Natasha Anasi headed it back into the center of the six. That’s where Kelly Cobb was able to find it amidst a jumble of players and nudge the ball into the Maryland net for a 2-0 Duke lead.
Maryland had an opportunity to trim the lead back to a goal in the 59th minute as sophomore Aubrey Baker played a good cross into the Blue Devils’ 18 for Brock, but her effort was stopped by Thomas, who finished the match with nine saves.
The Terrapins got on the board in the 69th minute to make it a one-goal game once again. Baker had some space on the left side of the 18 and drilled a shot that look like it was heading for the right corner of the net, but Thomas used all of her 6-foot-2 frame to stretch out and make the save. But Thomas couldn’t control the ball upon impact with the ground and it bounced away from her just enough for Ryan to slide in and finish into the left side of the net.
Maryland continued to pressure Duke as time wound down, but couldn’t quite connect for the tying score.
Brock played a cross from the right side looking for Baker in the 83rd minute, but the ball was just a bit too high and Baker couldn’t get on the end of it.
Junior Shade Pratt came up from her center back position in the 86th minute and took a quality shot from around 30 yards that barely went outside of the upper left 90.
Maryland’s final push came in the 89th minute when a Blue Devil foul gave the Terrapins a free kick from just inside the right sideline from 40 yards away. Gibbons struck the ball perfectly and sophomore Erika Nelson did well to get on the end of it, but her snap header also sailed just outside of the left post.
“We have to put this behind us and move on to our next challenge,” said Morgan. “We’re still in a pretty good place. We were No. 21 in the latest RPI. Duke was at 25th, so this won’t hurt us in that aspect, but we have to get some results moving forward.”
Maryland will begin its final road trip of the regular season next week when the Terps travel to Florida for a two-game swing through the Sunshine State. The Terrapins play at Miami on Thursday, Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. and finish with a 1 p.m. match on Sunday, Oct. 20 at No. 3 Florida State.