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Maryland women’s soccer vs. George Mason preview

The Terps look to improve to 2-0 after earning their first triumph since 2019.

Maryland women’s soccer makes the short trip to Fairfax, Virginia, to take on the George Mason Patriots Sunday night.

This past Thursday marked the Terps’ first win since Oct. 24, 2019, as they took down Temple at home by a score of 3-0. The victory was a joyous one for Maryland and it extended its season opener unbeaten streak to an impressive five years. The Terps are now 20-4-3 in their last 27 games to start the season.

The Terps’ matchup with George Mason will mark the second of eight non-conference games for them, and their first of eight away contests this season. The game serves as a nice breakup in a four-of-five game stretch for the Terps in College Park.

Sunday’s game will begin at 7 p.m. at George Mason Stadium and will air on ESPN+. Let’s dive into how George Mason will stack up against the Terps.

George Mason Patriots (0-1)

Spring 2021 record: 3-6-1 (3-3-1 Atlantic 10)

Head coach Manya Puppione is in her first season at the helm of George Mason’s women’s soccer program this fall. Hired this past July, Sunday’s game will be the second of Puppione’s tenure as the Patriots’ head coach. Serving most recently as the head coach of Marymount University, a Division III school in Arlington, Virginia, Puppione is also familiar with the Maryland program. As an assistant coach from 2016-2018, she helped the Terps improve greatly from 2016 while also bringing in a top-25 recruiting class in 2017.

George Mason started the season on the wrong foot, suffering a 2-1 road loss to Delaware in its season opener Thursday night. Delaware outshot the Patriots by a wide margin of 14-5, putting seven shots on goal. In the Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll, George Mason was tabbed to finish 11th out of the 14 teams.

Players to Know

Louisa Moser, senior goalkeeper, No. 1 — A native of Germany, Moser is currently in her fifth season as a part of the George Mason program. Starting all 10 matches for the Patriots in the spring, Moser led the team with 932 minutes played. Moser allowed an average of 1.45 goals against while posting an 0.706 save percentage. The former 2017 Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team honoree made five saves while allowing two goals against Delaware.

Dacheka Kolcum, senior forward, No. 29 — Kolcum was arguably George Mason’s best offensive player in the spring, starting every single game and leading the team with two goals scored. Her performance against rival George Washington, where she put up a goal and an assist, was enough to name her the Atlantic 10 Player of the Week this past March 15. Kolcum started against Delaware, playing 40 minutes and registering two of the team’s five shots.

Shannon Lee, senior defender, No. 5 — Lee has scored the only goal of the season so far for the Patriots, burying a penalty kick in the 75th minute against Delaware. The Haymarket, Virginia, product played the entire game against the Blue Hens, proving to be a rock in the Patriots’ defense. Last spring, Lee started eight matches and earned one assist.

Strength

Experience. The Patriots bring back a veteran roster as they try to inch back towards the .500 mark. Against Delaware, the team started one graduate student, seven seniors, one junior, one sophomore and only one freshman. The sophomore that Puppione started, defender Katie Saunders, may be young but still has plenty of playing time under her belt, as she started seven games last season, recording one goal and three assists. With only one player in George Mason’s starting 11 not returning from the spring, there is no lack of experience for the Patriots.

Weakness

Limiting opponents’ scoring. In the spring, George Mason allowed its opponents to score 1.5 goals per game, a number that ended as the third-worst mark in the entire Atlantic 10. The Patriots have already given up two goals in their season opener, exceeding that average from last season. Facing a Maryland offense that exploded for its most goals since Oct. 6, 2019, George Mason will have to tighten up its defense if it looks to be 1-1 entering next week.

Three things to watch

1. How will Maryland fare on the road? As schools from all across the country welcome fans back in a safe manner, the Terps will play an away game for the first time since their April 8 season-ending loss to Ohio State. While Maryland was able to pick up two draws last season, neither of them came on the road, where it went 0-6. The Terps struggled on the road pre-pandemic as well, going 2-5-1 in such contests compared to a 7-1-2 home record in 2019. Leone and the Terps have a chance to change that narrative with a win in Fairfax Sunday night.

2. Can the Terps continue their strong history versus George Mason? While the overall series history between the teams is a bit more even, it has been completely lopsided in favor if Maryland since the turn of the new century. In the teams’ last 13 matchups since 2000, the Terps are a remarkable 11-1-1 against the Patriots. The most recent contest between the teams was Sept. 5, 2019, a 3-0 Maryland victory with goals scored by Alyssa Poarch, Alexis Hogarth and Mikayla Dayes. With familiar faces still on both sides, Sunday poses to be an interesting rematch.

3. Is Maryland’s offensive output from Thursday sustainable? To say that the Maryland offense exploded against Temple would be an understatement. In the spring, the Terps only had 36 corner kick opportunities. In one game against Temple, Maryland had exactly one-third of that with 12. In addition, the Terps are almost halfway to their spring goal total of eight with three already on the season. While the level of competition is different in non-conference play compared to the Big Ten, the level of productivity from the Maryland offense is something to get excited about.