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Maryland women’s soccer vs. Navy preview

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The Terps are 90 strong minutes away from their first 4-0 start since 2013.

UMTerps

Coming off an impressive comeback win over Richmond, Maryland women’s soccer puts its undefeated record on the line against the Naval Academy Sunday afternoon.

Down 1-0 in the 69th minute, the Terps quickly strung together a response with goals by defender Adalee Broadbent and midfielder Catherine DeRosa in a span of five minutes to take the 2-1 lead and never look back. Maryland was outshot by Richmond, 12-9, but was still able to pull off the victory.

The Terps’ showdown with the Navy Midshipmen marks the fourth of eight non-conference matches and the middle game of a three-game homestand. Navy, hailing from Annapolis, Maryland, is also the only in-state opponent for the Terps this season.

Kickoff for Sunday evening’s match will be at 4:30 p.m. as part one of a doubleheader with Maryland men’s soccer. In addition, the game can be streamed on BTN Plus.

Now, let’s dive into what should be a formidable Midshipmen squad.

Navy Midshipmen (2-0-1)

2020-21 record: 4-4-3 (3-1-1 Patriot League)

Head coach Carin Gabarra is in the midst of her remarkable 29th season leading the Navy women’s soccer program. Women’s soccer at Navy was formerly a club sport, but it has turned into an outstanding program under Gabarra. She has led the Midshipmen to 24 winning seasons in 28 years, including 10 Patriot League regular-season titles and five NCAA Tournament appearances. Gabarra was an extremely decorated player as well, receiving All-American honors four times at UC Santa Barbara and eventually earning induction into the U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame and National Soccer Hall of Fame after her playing career.

Navy has been tabbed with high expectations, as it was voted to finish first in the 2021 Patriot League Women’s Soccer Preseason Poll. The Midshipmen have worked for results in all three games thus far, including wins against Towson and Loyola Marymount and a draw with George Washington.

Players to know

Victoria Tran, senior midfielder, No. 24 — After earning the distinction of 2020-21 Patriot League Midfielder of the Year, Tran has been named the conference’s preseason midfielder of the year. Last season — one where the Midshipmen also played three fall games against ACC competition — Tran led the team with three goals. While she has yet to record a goal or an assist in the young season, Tran has started all three games to this point.

Mattie Gallagher, sophomore goalkeeper, No. 0 — The second-year goalkeeper has played every single minute this season, manning down the net for the Mids. Gallagher has made 15 saves with 0.93 goals allowed on average. She also started nine games in her freshman campaign, earning Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week on March 30 and April 7.

Caitlin Doran, junior forward, No. 9 — Doran has been Navy’s best offensive player through three games, leading the team with two goals, eight shots and four shots on goal. Even though Doran has started all three games this season, it is her first year as a full-time starter. Both of her goals have proved to be the game-winner in Navy’s two wins. Doran was the Patriot League Player of the Week on March 30 but is really starting to break out this season.

Strength

Offense. In the spring portion of last season’s schedule, Navy scored 1.12 goals per game which ranked third in the Patriot League. The Midshipmen exceeded in more than just putting the ball in the net, though. Their offense was clinical, firing off 11.88 shots per game. Navy also led the conference with 13 assists and 1.62 assists per game, showing they can move the ball nicely. Navy will pose the biggest offensive threat that the Terps have seen so far this season.

Weakness

Corner kick differential. While it has not come back to haunt them yet, the Mids have conceded 23 corner kicks in three games while only earning nine. The Terps have excelled in earning corner kicks this year, generating 19 of them in their three games. Navy does not want to allow Maryland to control the game deep in its zone, and stopping the Terps from earning corner kick opportunities would be a good start.

Three things to watch

1. Will Alyssa Poarch be back for Maryland? The Terps’ best offensive player did not see the field Thursday against Richmond. Poarch was out with what head coach Ray Leone simply described as “load management.” The term has been widespread throughout the sports world as a way to give star athletes rest in certain games. LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard of the NBA have been two major players in the method. Poarch is a lethal weapon on offense for Maryland, still leading the team in every major category despite playing one less game.

2. Can Maryland continue its historical dominance against the Midshipmen? The Terps hold an impressive 11-1-2 all-time record against Navy. While they have looked great in the past decades, Navy has held strong in the recent series history. Maryland is 2-1-2 in the last five meetings between the two programs dating back to 2014. The two teams last faced off just over three years ago, resulting in a scoreless draw. Sunday is sure to be a fascinating Patriot League against Big Ten battle.

3. Can the defense continue to hold strong for the Terps? Maryland’s defense has been nearly flawless through three games. The Terps have held their opponents to only 23 shots, eight shots on goal and only five corner kicks. Maryland’s streak of allowing only one goal in three games is not something the program has done since October 2019, when it went on a 2-0-1 stretch against Indiana, Purdue and Michigan State. Defenders Adalee Broadbent, Olivia Hicks and Malikae Dayes have played every single minute this season. The three of them have been spectacular, as their contributions have helped solidify the backline.