In the team’s lone preseason match, the Maryland Terrapins managed a 3-1 win over the Loyola Greyhounds at Ludwig Field. Though the score didn’t seem worthy of the #17 team, the stats sheet did, with Maryland getting 28 shots (15 on goal) to Loyola’s 6 (1 on target). Part of the discrepancy could be attributed to preseason-caliber finishing on the part of the home team, with the rest to a rock-solid performance by Greyhounds’ senior goalkeeper Didi Haracic, who had 12 saves on the evening and made Maryland earn all of their three goals.
Maryland head coach Jonathan Morgan: “I thought their goalkeeper – Didi – was fantastic. I mean, that kid’s going to be a pro. She’s really good.”
The Terrapins had numerous chances in the first half-hour – including a shot from sophomore Ashley Spivey that bounced straight back from the right post – but they all seemed to just miss. In the 31st minute, though, sophomore Riley Barger got a ball through to Spivey, who with a defender right on her managed to send the ball in.
With a 1-0 lead to start the second half, Maryland came out flat, and it cost them as Loyola pressed and tied the score in the 57th minute on a free kick from just outside the top left corner of the box. The initial ball was headed clear but to a Loyola player, who shot it back in only to have it bounce off a fellow Greyhound and into a crowd, where somehow sophomore Charlotte Miller managed to find space and tip the ball into the net.
That seemed to wake the Terrapins up, and they began to take over the match. It would take another 15 minutes for them to get the scoreboard to reflect that, though, as sophomore Shannon Collins took a corner kick from the left and sent it to the far post, where sophomore Maisie McCune headed it back into the upper left corner. Five minutes later junior Alex Doody completed the scoring, one-touching a nice cross from freshman Natasha Ntone-Kouo inside the right post from about six yards out.
Morgan had some concerns about the match but on the whole was happy with his team. “It’s the first game of preseason, and we showed some nerves, showed a little bit of jitters. But I thought we moved the ball well at times. We were creative at times. We had some really great opportunities, great looks at the goal. Overall, I thought our kids did a good job for the first time out, definitely take away some things that we need to be better at, some of our defending, some of our combination play, decision-making. But first time out, not too bad.”
I asked him about how they were dealing with losing some key senior players, and who they had coming in. “We did lose five very good players who also brought a lot of leadership for us. And right now we’re trying to figure out what individuals are going to be able to step up for us. We missed Megan Gibbons tonight. She’s a returning senior from last year. She tore her ACL against Alabama in the sixth game last fall. We got her back, but she’s away for her sister’s wedding. It’ll be good to have her voice and leadership out on the field. But I think we’ll find it. We’ve got some kids who want to do it, and I think they’re on their way. We’ve got a few good freshmen, brought in five kids, one coming in last spring: Lauren Berman, Natasha Natone[-Kouo], Hope Gouterman, Alex Anthony, and Maren Knutsen. Three of those kids were able to play tonight, got a good performance out of Lauren. Natasha’s working her way in; I think she’s going to do some really great things for us. And just waiting for Maren to get healed from some surgery, so once she steps into the fold I think we’ll be in a pretty good place.”
There were some positional changes from last year, with Spivey moving from midfielder to forward and Shade Pratt moving from outside back to center back. “Yeah, we’re trying some things right now. Ashley scored six goals for us last spring. She was pretty dangerous; she probably could have had another three or four. We had a pretty challenging schedule last spring. We’re going to give that a shot. She’s still going to play some in the midfield for us.
“Center back for us right now is a place that we’ve got to find an answer. Trying Shade, she’s got great pace. She’s one of our best one-v-one defenders. Hopefully with some experience she’ll be able to step in. But you know, Kayla Shea tonight did a really wonderful job, too. She didn’t play very much last fall, but she did all the things we asked her in the spring and in the summer, and she showed tonight that she can play pretty well. So we’ve got some competition there. There’s another player, Sarah Fichtner, transfer from Rutgers, who’s coming off of two years of being off, she played in the right back position tonight, thought she was pretty good. We’re going to try her at center back as well. Hopefully we can get some answers by the time we get to the season.”
Maryland starts their regular season next Friday night at 7 pm at Ludwig Field, as they take on The Citadel. Loyola plays another exhibition game on Sunday at 4 pm at Mount St. Mary’s before beginning their regular season at Towson, also on Friday but at 4 pm.