COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Junior Shannon Collins assisted on both goals for the University of Maryland women’s soccer team to help lead the Terps to a 2-1 victory over NC State Sunday night at Ludwig Field.
Maryland evens its record at 2-2-0 with the win, while NC State falls to 1-3-0 with the loss.
“I think we played really, really well tonight,” said Maryland head coach Jonathan Morgan. “We would have liked to have kept a clean sheet tonight, but we had a moment – just a lapse – and they were able to counter us and they took advantage of it. However, I thought we defended better tonight than we did against William & Mary. This team put a little more pressure on us and I think we managed it well. It got a little chaotic in the final five or six minutes, but it’s a good weekend for us. But, we still have to be better in the final third. I think you can see how we want to move and how we want to play. The soccer is coming together.”
The Wolfpack came out with a defensive mindset and put ten players behind the ball in order to not allow an early Maryland goal. That allowed the Terrapins to possess the ball for much of the opening minutes of the game, but didn’t provide much in the way for opportunities to attack.
The Terps finally broke through in the 23rd minute when Collins started the play by sending the ball down the left sideline for junior Aubrey Baker. She then beat her defender on a drive to the end line and crossed a beautiful ball into the box. NC State keeper Mackenzie Stelljes tried to make a play on the ball, but couldn’t get to it and senior Shade Pratt was able to get past her defender and knock the ball into the open goal.
Maryland had several more chances in the opening 45 minutes of play, but couldn’t get another goal on the board before halftime.
Junior Maisie McCune had an amazing effort from 25 yards out denied by Stelljes when the NC State keeper got just enough of a finger on the ball to knock it over the crossbar in the 28th minute.
Baker took the ensuing corner kick and played it short to Collins, who got off a good shot, but it sailed just wide of the net.
Junior Riley Barger had the final great opportunity for Maryland in the first half. Sophomore Natasha Ntone-Kouo sent a good through pass to Barger up the left seam in the 44th minute. Barger was able to position herself against her defender to get off a solid shot toward the lower left corner, but Stelljes made a diving effort to turn the shot away.
The second half opened with NC State capitalizing on a defensive lapse by the Terps. A little give-and-go from Kayla Saager to Jenna Kalwa and back to Saager inside the Maryland box tied the score at 1-1 in the 48th minute.
Collins nearly netted the game-winner in the 57th minute when she bent a corner kick toward the goal and it appeared to have found an opening right up until Stelljes was able to tip it off the crossbar.
But it was just a couple of minutes later that Collins would have another chance.
Junior Sarah Fichtner rocketed a shot from 30 yards out in the 60th minute and Stelljes made another spectacular save by tipping it over the crossbar. However, that set up another Maryland corner kick, which would prove to be the decisive moment in the match.
Once again Collins lined up to take the corner and she blistered a ball into the six-yard box that Stelljes couldn’t get a bead on. Instead it went past the Pack keeper right to junior Sarah Molina, who squeezed through two NC State defenders to head in what proved to be the game-winning goal.
The Wolfpack tried to put on a charge in the late minutes, but the Maryland defense held together and allowed only one shot to even reach junior keeper Rachelle Beanlands, who picked up an easy save.
The game, which was originally scheduled for a 6 p.m. start, was delayed 1 hour and 55 minutes due to inclement weather in the area. According to Morgan, the delay wasn’t much of an issue for his squad.
“They were just having fun. They’re excited to play. They were having a good time; they were dancing around. Their energy was good. They entertained themselves during that whole break. And then when it was time to play the leadership group got them sorted out and focused on what our game plan was. This group wants to win. They’re disappointed about last season, so their concentration and focus are on a better level this year.”
Maryland has eight days off until it returns to the pitch on Sept. 8 at Navy. The match between the Terps and the Midshipmen is scheduled for a 5:30 p.m. start at the Glenn Warner Soccer Facility and is slated to be streamed live on the Patriot League Network.