2011 In Review: End Of An Era
Dec. 14, 2011
COLLEGE PARK, MD. - Now that a little time has passed and the season is fully done, it's time to look back on the 2011 University of Maryland women's soccer season and reflect on some of the memories and milestones that the Terrapins made and reached.
Looking back on the last four years, this class compiled a record of 51-24-10 (.659) overall and was 18-17-5 (.513) in ACC play - the FIRST-EVER class at Maryland to have a winning record in regular-season conference action in its four years.
During their four seasons in College Park, the seniors helped guide the Terps to three NCAA tournament bids, which included two trips to the Sweet 16 and the program's first-ever No. 1 seed in the tournament. Maryland also made it to the ACC tournament finals for just the second-time in program history (1997 was the first) during this senior class's tenure.
The past four seasons also saw Maryland defeat five opponents, which were ranked among the Top 10 in the country at the time of the match, including the first victories in program history over North Carolina.
This marks the third consecutive season Maryland has finished among the top 11 in the final poll. In 2009 (another Sweet 16 team) the Terps also finished the year at No. 11. Last season, with an 18-2-3 overall record, Maryland ranked No. 10 in the final poll.
Spencer Ends Storied Career With Honors
In October, she was named to the All-ACC team for the third time in her career, becoming just the fifth player in the history of Terrapin women's soccer to be named to the All-ACC team three times. Spencer, who was a first team selection in 2009 and 2010, joins four-time honoree Kimmy Francis and three-time selections Emily Janss, Mallory Mahar and Erin Taylor.
On December 7, she was named to the NSCAA All-Southeast team, giving her three all-region selections. The only other Terrapins to have three all-region honors on their resumes are Mahar, Keri Sarver and Taylor.
Spencer will also go down as the first Terrapin to ever be a two-time member of the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List.
Over the past four seasons Grove scored 23 goals (tied for sixth all-time) and assisted on 18 others (tied for eighth all-time) for a total of 64 points, which places the Rochester, N.Y., native fifth on the all-time points list at Maryland.
The only other trio of senior teammates to be among the top 11 in points were Sarver, Emmy Harbo and Robin McCullough, who rank one, two and four, respectively, on the all-time points list.
Balogun Bounces Back
But a strange thing happened - Balogun lost her starting job early in the 2008 season and then redshirted the 2009 season. Some would have sulked, while others may have wanted out and transferred, but Balogun worked and continued to get better and when her time came to return to the starting lineup in 2010 she was ready.
The result was what was expected when Balogun arrived in College Park as the No. 3 overall recruit in the nation - one of the most storied goalkeeping careers in Maryland history.
Balogun finished her career ranked No. 1 in all-time goals-against average with a 0.93 - the only starter in Terrapin in history with a GAA below 1.00.
She also finished her career ranked No. 2 in keeper games started and minutes played. She is tied for second on the all-time shutouts list with 19 and is fifth all-time with 242 saves.
But perhaps her best record is her 3-1-1 record in NCAA tournament play.
A Jill (or Lydia) of All Trades
Hastings was the team's leading scorer as a freshman in 2008 as a forward. She then transitioned to wide midfield and was a major factor in Maryland's high-scoring offense in the 2010 season.
When the 2011 season rolled around, Maryland had a huge hole at left back, where the graduated Caitlin McDowell had contributed 12 assists in 2010. Head coach Brian Pensky looked no further than Hastings to fill the key spot on the back line and she responded by starting all 22 matches in 2011.
Injury Comebacks and Farewells
Two members of the Maryland women's soccer program had comeback stories this season.
Senior Annesia Faulkner started her first two seasons as a Terp, leading the team in assists as a sophomore with six in 2007, but suffered a broken bone in her foot and missed the 2009 and 2010 seasons completely due to the injury. She battled through two surgeries and countless hours of rehab to take the field again as a Terp in 2011. Faulkner finished the season with two assists in 10 appearances.
The other inspirational comeback belongs to senior Ariel Nehemiah. Her collegiate career was derailed before it even started thanks to a serious car accident prior to her coming to College Park. Over the past four years she endured five surgeries and worked her way back to becoming a capable contributor in training this fall. The hours and hours of rehab and time in the training room finally paid off on October 27 when Nehemiah made her Terrapin debut, starting on "Senior Night" - a 2-1 overtime victory over No. 8 North Carolina.
Baker started 10 matches in 2011 before suffering a knee injury that ended her season early in the Sept. 22 match vs. Boston College. Baker was enjoying her own comeback story prior to the injury. She missed her senior season in high school due to injury, but recovered and started all 18 matches as a freshman in 2007. Baker then missed the 2008 season due to an offseason knee injury, but turned in her finest season, earning all-region honors in 2009, and continuing to be that rock for the Terp defense in 2010.
McAfee was Baker's replacement at center back and played 80 minutes vs. the Eagles and made her second career start in the next match vs. NC State. But her time in the lineup was cut short due to a knee injury in the first half vs. the Wolfpack. This isn't entirely the end of the road for McAfee, who also plays on the women's lacrosse team and still has two years of eligibility with that Terrapin program.
The Blemish on a Championship Season
The Cardinal ran roughshod through its opposition this season en route to the program's first national title. Stanford outscored its opponents 73-9 and ended the season with a 25-0-1 mark.
The lone blemish on the Cardinal's season came way back on August 26 when Maryland, behind a season-high 11 saves by Balogun, battled Stanford to a 0-0 tie in front of 1,527 at Ludwig Field.
But that hardly means the cupboard is bare.
The Terrapins return four of their five leading scorers from 2011, including rising junior Hayley Brock who led the team with 19 points on seven goals and five assists and rising senior Olivia Wagner, who was the team's leading goal-scorer with eight.
The midfield will be an area of strength for Maryland moving forward. Joining Wagner on the offensive side will be rising seniors Becky Kaplan (6-3=15) and Danielle Hubka (5-3=13). Rising senior Domenica Hodak, who could, arguably, have been the Terps best player the past two seasons, will anchor the defensive midfield. And as Kristen Schmidbauer will certainly prove her worth as she enters her second season as a Terrapin.
Brock will return up top at forward, along with rising sophomore Cory Ryan, who played both forward and midfield as a freshman and had two goals. The Terps also expect big things from rising sophomore Alex Reed, who provided good minutes off the bench in the Sweet Sixteen run this fall. And Marisa Kresge will look to make an impact at the forward position, as she returns from an ACL injury.
The back line will see the most change with only rising senior Megan Gibbons set to return from the regular starters. Rising sophomore Shade Pratt saw some time at wide back as a freshman and could complement Gibbons on the outside. Amanda Gerlitz will return from ACL surgery and compete as a wide back. Bailey Bodell and Kayla Clarke will look to step in and fill the shoes of the departed central defenders.
The keeper spot will likely come down to a battle between rising junior Shannon Zickler and redshirt freshman Rachelle Beanlands. But Beanlands will likely miss a portion of the start of the season due to commitments with the Canadian National Team.