Sept. 16, 2007
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Midfielder Nataly Arias scored her third goal of the season off of a perfect give-and-go with sophomore Maureen Dowling to give the University of Maryland women's soccer team a 1-0 victory over George Mason Sunday night at Ludwig Field.
The win lifts the Terps' record to 4-1-1 on the season and gives them their first three-game winning streak since 2002. The Patriots fall to 4-2-0 on the season.
"We scored a great goal in the run of play against a hard-nosed, stingy defense," said Maryland head coach Brian Pensky. "Kaila [Sciascia] and Mo [Dowling] played good balls, and Nat [Arias] showed terrific composure in skillfully tucking it away.
"Then in the second half we did what we needed to do to kill the game off. It would have been nice to have finished one of our earlier chances to extend our lead; yet knowing that we can successfully finish off a game is important."
Maryland came out at the opening whistle determined to challenge the Mason defense and the strategy paid off with three corner kick opportunities in the first eight minutes of the match.
Freshman Kylie Ricker had the first quality scoring chance in the 17th minute of play, taking a strong shot from 18 yards out that Patriot goalkeeper Kasey Davenport saved, but lost the ball for an instant before recovering.
Junior midfielder Kaila Sciascia nearly got the Terps on the board in the 27th minute with a spectacular effort on a cross-field pass from sophomore defender Mary Casey. Casey sent a long cross from near the right side of midfield to a streaking Sciascia into the Mason 18-yard box. The pass looked to be a few paces too far, but Sciascia caught up to it and got off a sliding shot that barely sailed right of the goal.
That led to Arias' game-winning heroics in the 34th minute. The play started with a foul on Mason that was followed by a free kick shot from senior defender Ashly Kennedy. That shot went wide, but Arias was able to win a 50-50 ball off Davenport's ensuing goal kick. She then saw Dowling making a run down the left side of the field and sent a nifty pass onto Dowling's feet. Never giving up on the play, Arias continued to make a run down the center of the field and Dowling was able to slip a pass to her at the 13-yard marker where Arias finished the goal into the left center of the Patriot net.
That goal marked Arias' fourth career game-winner and second in as many games after netting the lone goal in the Terps' 1-0 double-overtime win over Dartmouth on Friday. It also marks the first time a Maryland player scored back-to-back game-winners since Mallory Mahar tallied consecutive game-winners in the 2004 NCAA tournament against Loyola and Penn State.
Sciascia could have given the Terrapins a 2-0 lead in the 70th minute, but Davenport made the best of her four saves in the match to preserve the 1-0 score. Arias dribbled through the middle of the Patriot defense, drawing several defenders. That allowed Sciascia to make a well-timed run through the left center of the field. Arias hit her with a great through-ball behind the Mason defense that left Sciascia one-on-one with the GMU goalkeeper. Sciascia got off a hard shot, but Davenport was up to the challenge and held on for the save.
Maryland's defense was solid all match and held the 1-0 lead despite furious pressure in the waning minutes by the Patriots. Terrapin freshman goalkeeper Yewande Balogun earned her fourth shutout after making three saves.
Maryland returns to action on Saturday, September 22 against Kent State at 7 p.m. at Ludwig Field.