The Terrapins women’s soccer team did something last night it hadn’t done through 16 games this season: It brawled.
After Hayley Brock was taken down around midfield, a fight broke out between the Terps forward and several Miami players. Fists were thrown, hair was pulled and players were ejected. Two or three fans were also kicked out of the game after jumping over the fence in an attempt to join or break up the fight.
Brock earned a red card along with Miami’s Kate Howarth and Maddie Simms. All three were escorted from the field and are not eligible to play in their next games, meaning Brock won’t be on the pitch with the Terps when they host No. 1 Florida State on Sunday.
“There were a lot of late hits and a lot of pulling of jerseys,” midfielder Becky Kaplan said after the Terps suffered a 1-0 loss in the 98th minute.
Athletic Director Kevin Anderson and university President Wallace Loh watched from the sidelines as the two ACC teams brawled across the field with just more than two minutes left in regulation.
The fight was not a random outburst, though. Tension was high the whole game, as there were 29 fouls and three yellow cards in addition to the three red cards handed out.
“This game certainly was the most intense game that we’ve played this year,” coach Jonathan Morgan said. “I think that the nature of Miami’s style
of play in general … it added a lot of emotion. It was really a circus, to be honest. The lack of management of the game itself just didn’t control things.”
The on-field tussle overshadowed a disappointing overtime loss for Morgan’s squad. Terps goalkeeper Rachelle Beanlands collided with defender Domenica Hodak in the 97th minute, leaving the goal wide open. Hurricanes midfielder Jordan Roseboro easily put the ball away, and Hodak was carried off the field.
“This was a really disappointing loss for our team and our program,” Morgan said. “We had an opportunity to do something great … and we didn’t take that opportunity.”
The Terps (11-4-2, 6-2-1 ACC) had another opportunity, too, Morgan said. They had the chance to develop as a team in intense and aggressive situations against Miami (8-6-2, 3-4-1), but the Terps didn’t react how Morgan had wanted and instead, his leading scorer was escorted from the premises.
“We had an opportunity tonight to grow in adverse conditions when things got hot and heavy, and instead we didn’t handle the situation the right way,” he said. “We got caught up into the emotions. We got caught up into some things that didn’t matter, and in turn we let it affect our play and our composure. That was our own doing tonight.”
But as serious as the fight was and as physical as the match seemed — University Police squad cars were even called to monitor the parking lot until the field was cleared — it wasn’t the first time midfielder Olivia Wagner had noticed high aggression in conference play.
“That’s the nature of the ACC,” she said. “It’s the most physical conference in the country, and we know that going into every single game. It happens. It’s a competitive sport. It’s a physical sport. It’s emotional. … Sometimes your emotions just get the better of you.”
Those emotions, though, contributed to a Terps loss last night. Although three players were ejected, the tension was building long before bodies were shoved to the ground.
“It’s pretty easy to point at the Hayley Brock incident,” Morgan said, “but I think we lost some of that composure well before that. It’s just disappointing on a lot of levels.”