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Maryland women’s soccer vs. Richmond preview

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The Terps return to Ludwig Field with their eyes on a 3-0 record.

Following its first road win of the season, Maryland women’s soccer returns home to take on the Richmond Spiders Thursday evening.

“I’m looking forward to the challenge,” head coach Ray Leone said. “They’re a good, organized team.”

The last time the Terps took the field, they earned a 2-0 victory at George Mason. Maryland commanded the majority of the game, firing off a resounding 22 shots, 10 of which were on goal. Forwards Kori Locksley and Alyssa Poarch both put up goals to show for their efforts in the Terps’ win.

Maryland’s matchup with Richmond is its third of eight non-conference games and the first of a three-match homestand. The Spiders will also be the second of four Atlantic 10 opponents for the Terps, as Maryland will play George Washington and Saint Joseph’s in back-to-back games in early September.

Thursday’s matinee will kick off at 4:30 p.m. at Ludwig Field and will air on BTN Plus. Let’s take a look at Richmond’s squad and the threat they may pose for the Terps.

Richmond Spiders (0-1)

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

Head coach Marty Beall is in his fourth season at the helm of Richmond’s women’s soccer program. Since the program’s inception in 1996, there have only been two head coaches; Peter Albright manned the ship from 1996-2017 and Beall is the second. Beall led the Spiders to a five-win improvement in 2019 before undergoing a bit of adversity in the spring. Before accepting the Richmond job, Beall spent nine seasons at High Point, winning Big South Coach of the Year twice.

This season, the Spiders have been tabbed to finish 12th out of 14 teams in the Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll. Richmond had a tough start to the season against the current third-ranked team in the nation in Virginia. The Spiders suffered an 8-0 loss and were outshot 32-1. Those results should be taken lightly, though, as Virginia is one of the nation’s best.

“Virginia’s one of the top three teams in the country,” Leone said. “You can’t even look at the score, it doesn’t even matter.”

Players to Know

TJ Anderson, graduate student midfielder, No. 15 — Playing both midfield and forward for the Spiders last season, Anderson started all eight matches. She led Richmond with two goals and played the second-most minutes on the team. Anderson’s six shots on goal also paved the way for the Spiders. The Peachtree Corners, Georgia, native is in her fourth year as a part of Richmond’s program after playing her freshman year at Louisville.

Gianna Lucchesi, junior defender, No. 18 — Lucchesi started every game in the spring with the exception of Senior Day. She has fortified herself as the anchor of Richmond’s defense, leading the team in minutes as a sophomore. Lucchesi is on track to do the same this season, as she played all 90 minutes in last week’s defeat to Virginia.

Claire Hinkle, senior goalkeeper, No. 40 — The veteran goalkeeper started five games in the spring, making 17 saves and finishing with 17 goals allowed on average. Hinkle had bright moments, including a 10-save shutout performance at George Washington on March 28 to earn Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Week. Hinkle played just over half the game against Virginia, allowing three goals but also making seven saves.

Strength

Generating corners. Despite only playing eight matches in the spring — tied for the least amount of games played in the Atlantic 10 with George Washington and Fordham — the Spiders had 56 corner kicks, the fourth-most in the conference. In fact, Richmond’s success on earning corner kicks was not just outstanding for the Atlantic 10, but its 7 corners per game ranked seventh in the entire nation. For a team that struggled on offense last season, the number of corner opportunities created was definitely a bright spot and something that could be built upon.

Weakness

Scoring. Despite the number of corner kicks the Spiders had in the spring, they could not completely solve their scoring problem. Richmond only averaged 0.75 goals per game in the spring, ranking bottom-five in the conference. While its 4.38 shots on goal per game would not qualify as horrid, Richmond needs to start seeing some results of its offensive production this fall. Against Virginia, the Spiders only had one shot by forward Molly Wierman.

Three things to watch

1. Can Maryland keep up its offensive production? Through two games this season, the Terps have put up absurd offensive numbers. While it has been against non-conference, mid-major competition and not the Big Ten-only schedule the Terps played in the spring, Maryland has shattered its spring statistics through two games. To start, Maryland has five goals already compared to eight total goals in 12 games last season. The Terps already have more than one-third of its spring shot total and are averaging 8.4 more shots per game.

“It’s just an extremely close team,” Locksley said. “Everybody’s working hard for each other and Coach [Leone], as well, works hard for us and put us in the most successful place possible.”

2. Will rest or rust prove true for Richmond? While the Terps played two games in one weekend, it has been one full week since the last time the Spiders took the field. Since the score was lopsided, Richmond also had the opportunity to sit a lot of its starters in the second half, using another 11 players off the bench. The Spiders will definitely be well-rested headed into Thursday's matchup with Maryland which could prove to be an advantage.

3. Can the Terps improve their win streak to three? Heading into the season, it had been 665 days since Maryland’s last victory. Just one week later, Maryland will have the opportunity to extend its win streak to three. It would be quite a remarkable feat for the Terps and something that the program has not done since September 2017 in consecutive games against Richmond, George Mason and William & Mary. Coincidentally, two of those teams are also slated in succession on Maryland’s schedule this year.

“It’s my last season with Maryland soccer and, you know, I’m just excited and it’s a lot of people on the team’s last season,” forward Emily McNesby said. “I think we’re just really wanting to work super hard for each other, and for me I want our team to do as best as possible...I’ve just been motivated to have last season, put it under the rug, and then this season, last one, best one.”