Oct. 18, 2009
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - For 81 minutes it looked like "Lady Luck" was going to overlook the 10th-ranked Maryland women's soccer team in its game against NC State Sunday afternoon at Ludwig Field. Posts, crossbars and a stingy Wolfpack defense stifled the Terrapin offense for much of the afternoon, but the Terps rallied from a two-goal deficit in the final nine minutes of regulation and won the game, 3-2, six minutes into the first overtime.
"NC State is a very difficult team to play against," said Maryland head coach Brian Pensky. "They're organized, and they know exactly what they want to do. Having said that, our first half focus and execution of our game plan was not very good. And it left us chasing the game. Come the second half, we competed harder, and played much smarter soccer, and as a result, put ourselves in a position to score some goals. These kids believe right now, and you can't put a price on belief."
The game got off to a rocky start for the Terrapins midway through the first half. The Wolfpack converted on a corner kick in the 25th minute when Katie Ruiz sent a deep ball to the left corner of the Maryland 18-yard box. Meredith Parrilla got on the end of the cross and headed the ball into the upper right 90 for a 1-0 NC State lead.
The Wolfpack took advantage of another set piece in the 35th minute to up their lead to 2-0. A Maryland foul gave NC State a free kick just inside the midfield stripe. Ruiz sent another ball into the Terrapin box and this time it Kara Blosser getting on the end of it and heading it into the upper right corner.
Maryland, as it has so often done this season, came out of the halftime break and looked to score. But this time luck was not on the Terps' side. Sophomore Jasmyne Spencer had Maryland's best scoring chance of the game in the 50th minute. She ran through the left side Wolfpack defense and got off a solid strike that beat Wolfpack keeper Kim Kern, but the ball was a bit too wide and ricocheted off the far post.
Unlucky is the only way to describe what happened to sophomore Ashley Grove in the 66th minute. Grove beat her defender to a ball on the right side of the field and looked up to see Kern had come out of the net trying to get to the ball before Grove. With an open net in front of her Grove chipped the ball over Kern, but it took a high bounce and hit off the crossbar, allowing NC State to clear its area and keep the Terps off the board.
Time was winding down and the Terps' unbeaten home record appeared to be in jeopardy, but the Terps refused to give in. Finally, in the 81st minute, Maryland was able to break through and close the gap to a goal. Sophomore Sade Ayinde played a ball down the left side that Spencer ran down. Even with an NC State defender on her back Spencer was able to get off a cross to the top of the Wolfpack's six-yard box. Grove fought her way through two defenders and was able to get her right foot on the ball and redirect past a diving Kern.
With momentum on their side and NC State on its heels, the Terps pressed their advantage and looked for the tying goal, but time was not on their side. Maryland, which had been the victim of set plays earlier in the game, took advantage of a corner kick in the 88th minute. Freshman Olivia Wagner sent a great ball to the far post and redshirt-junior Molly Dreska carved out enough space to get on the end of it and head the ball into the far corner to send the game into overtime.
As fate would have it, it was another set piece in the sixth minute of the first overtime that gave Maryland the victory. A foul by the Wolfpack gave Maryland a free kick near midfield. Wagner sent the ball into the box, but the ball didn't find a Terrapin player. Instead the ball found NC State defender Gia Cipollini and her header went into the Wolfpack goal, giving the Terps the 3-2 win on an own goal.
The victory boosts Maryland's season record to 11-2-2, 3-2-2 in ACC play and 7-0-1 at Ludwig Field. NC State falls to 7-7-1 overall and 2-5-0 in the conference.
Maryland returns to action on Thursday, Oct. 22 when it heads to Clemson, S.C. for a 7 p.m. meeting with the Clemson Tigers.