Last Wednesday, the National Soccer Coaches Association (NSCAA) released it's preseason Top 25 poll results. The list included three teams from Maryland's new Big Ten home: Michigan (7) Nebraska (13), and Penn State (21). Maryland received nary a vote.
Earlier today, the Big Ten coaches released their preseason poll. The top five vote getters per the conference coaches are in order: Penn State, Wisconsin, Maryland, Nebraska, and Michigan,
At this point it's time for me to engage in some rampant and uninformed speculation. National voters looked at Maryland's 10-10 (6-7 ACC) record from 2013 and saw no further. Big Ten coaches looked at the Terps coming from a conference that placed three teams in last season's Final Four, had four of the top five teams in the final RPI, and had a non-conference schedule that included games at Santa Clara (11) and Stanford (16) and thought, "This team is probably better than 10-10 in our league."
As for the teams around Maryland, Penn State has made 19 consecutive NCAA appearances and returns eight starters from the team that lost to Wake Forest in the NCAA Tournament second round. Wisconsin returns nine starters from a squad that finished .500 in conference play and 10-7-1 overall. Nebraska and Michigan finished first and second respectively last season.
Coach Jonathan Morgan has again elected to open Maryland's season on the west coast where the Terps will face the defending National Champion UCLA Bruins before going across town to take on Pepperdine in Malibu. We'll have a detailed season preview next week.
The B1G coaches select three players from each team as "players to watch." The Terrapins' three representatives on the list are junior midfielder Aubrey Baker, junior goalkeeper Rachelle Beanlands, and senior forward /midfielder Cory Ryan.
Baker, a junior from Foothill Ranch, California became more aggressive in her sophomore year doubling the shots she took as a freshman and found some success - scoring three times. Baker hasn't missed a game in her Terrapin career.
Beanlands had a spectacular freshman year registering four shutouts. a 1.07 goals against average, while ringing up saves on nearly 73 percent of the shots she faced. Her numbers dropped off a bit as a sophomore but she still recorded four shutouts and excepting two games where she conceded four goals each, had a goals against average of 0.833 in the Terrapins' other eighteen contests.
Ryan, who may move up to the forward slot, has played mainly in the midfield in her Terps' career to date. She has four goals and eight assists in her time at Maryland and half of both of those numbers came last season.
Following the western swing, Maryland will open their home schedule when they host William and Mary on August 28. Their inaugural B1G game will come just over two weeks later on September 12 when Rutgers comes to College Park.