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Alabama soccer loses final non-conference game to Maryland, 2-1

The Alabama Crimson Tide soccer team dropped its first match of the season to Maryland, 2-1, on Thursday night in front of 1,630 fans — a new record for the Alabama Soccer Stadium.

Alabama and Maryland opened the game playing at a frenetic pace, neither team able to control the possession throughout the entirety of the field. A little more than three minutes into the match, Maryland’s leading goal-scorer, senior Becky Kaplan, found the back of the net on a ball played through to her by Hayley Brock.

The emotion that was thick in the air at the beginning of the match was quickly drained from the stadium, and for the first time during the Tide’s 2012 season, Alabama had to find a way to respond. It didn’t take them long.

The Tide hurried down the field into Maryland’s final third and quickly earned a free kick just outside the 18-yard box. Senior defender Meghan Duffy stood over the ball, calmly waited for her players to get set and drilled the ball across the face of the goal.

Freshman Merel Van Dongen soared into the penalty area, got a head onto the ball and put it into the back of the net to even the score. Van Dongen’s goal was her first of the season. Just 23 seconds after Maryland sucked the emotion out of the stadium, Van Dongen, the U19 Dutch National Team’s captain, gained it right back.

Both teams fought furiously throughout the first half, but neither team could piece together the final pass, the final touch necessary to gain an advantage. At halftime, the teams were knotted up at one goal each.

As the second half wore on, both the Terrapins and the Tide fought to control possession and piece together a buildup great enough net the go-ahead goal. Alabama and Maryland fought for control at midfield for an extended period of time in the second half, and as each team’s stamina drained down, the action shifted from end to end.

With just under two minutes remaining in regulation, and the Crimson Tide pushed up the field and consistently in the Maryland final third and pressing hard for the go-ahead goal, Maryland took the ball and moved it forward on a quick counterattack. The Terrapins charged forward, and the ball rested at the feet of Hayley Brock from nearly thirty yards outside the Alabama 18-yard box.

Brock poked the ball through to Kaplan at the top of the box who tucked the ball into the far post, just past the outstretched arms of Alabama’s junior goalkeeper Shelby Church. The Terrapins took the 2-1 advantage and held on during the match’s final moments.

The Tide now turns its sights to conference play which will begin next weekend. Alabama will travel to Knoxville to take on the Tennessee Lady Volunteers on Friday before traveling to Baton Rouge to play LSU on Sunday.

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