Maryland women’s soccer returns to Ludwig Field to wrap up a three-game homestand against the George Washington Colonials Thursday night.
After a 3-0 start, the Terps are coming off their first loss of the season, a 3-1 defeat to the hands of the Naval Academy. Sunday’s contest against Navy yielded some positives for Maryland despite the loss. The Terps struggled to finish on scoring opportunities, but registered a whopping 19 shots, a good sign for future games.
The Terps’ match against the Colonials is the fifth of an eight-game non-conference slate. Coming from Washington, D.C., George Washington University is only about a 15-mile trip from the University of Maryland. Maryland holds a 10-6-4 record in its all-time series with George Washington.
Prior to kickoff against the Colonials, Maryland will honor former Cincinnati women’s soccer player Ally Sidloski, who tragically passed away this past May.
Thursday evening’s match will be at 7:00 p.m. and the match can be streamed on BTN Plus.
George Washington Colonials (0-2-2)
Spring 2021 record: 6-4-1 (4-3-1 Atlantic 10)
Head coach Michelle Demko is in her fourth season commanding the George Washington women’s soccer program. Including the four matches played this season, Demko has put up an impressive 30-17-8 record at the school. Before arriving in Washington, Demko was the head coach at UNC Asheville for eight seasons. Demko had a successful playing career as well, including stints with Bayern Munich and the WUSA. She also has experience with U.S. Soccer, as a player and an assistant coach.
The Colonials head into the heart of their season with high expectations, being tabbed to finish fourth out of 14 teams in the Atlantic 10 Preseason Poll. George Washington is the third out of four Atlantic 10 squads Maryland will play in the regular season. Last time out, the Colonials suffered a tough 6-1 loss to third-ranked Virginia. Back-to-back draws against Navy and UNC Greensboro were sandwiched between the Virginia loss and the Colonials’ season-opening loss to Elon.
Players to Know
Kelly Amador, graduate student midfielder, No. 10 — Amador has held the honor of captain for the Colonials since her junior campaign in 2019. The Yardley, Pennsylvania, product has been a rock for the Colonials, starting every single game for them the past four seasons. In the spring, Amador played the second-most minutes on the entire team. Amador has been arguably George Washington’s best offensive player on the young season with one goal and one assist.
Tamaki Machi, redshirt junior goalkeeper, No. 1 — The Tokyo, Japan, native has had a tough start to this season, but make no mistake, she has solidified herself as one of the best goalkeepers in the Atlantic 10. Coming off an Atlantic 10 All-Rookie Team season in 2019, Machi followed suit with a strong spring 2021 season. The goalkeeper finished the season with 57 saves and received Atlantic 10 Defensive Player of the Week on April 5 after two consecutive shutouts against George Mason and VCU. Machi has allowed 11 goals in four games, but those numbers are a little skewed because of the caliber of the Colonials’ last opponent in Virginia.
Sammy Neyman, senior midfielder, No. 2 — Neyman has exploded early in her senior season, leading George Washington with two goals and 10 shots. After transferring from Miami for the 2019 season, Neyman has started every single match for the Colonials. In addition to her offensive prowess, Neyman is a mainstay on the field for George Washington. The common saying is that the best ability is availability, and Neyman proved exactly that by leading the team with 1,039 minutes in the spring.
Defense and goalkeeping. Despite the team’s slow start, the defense was a strong point for the Colonials in the spring. George Washington allowed less than one goal per game in conference play with only 0.88 allowed on average. With Machi leading the way in net, the team posted an 0.863 save percentage in conference games, the best in the Atlantic 10. George Washington also posted an impressive five shutouts in the spring, a mark that represented 45.5% of its games.
Scoring. The Colonials averaged less than one goal in conference play last season with only 0.875 per game. Piling onto last season's struggles, George Washington has only scored four goals in four games this season including getting blanked once. George Washington will need to generate plenty of scoring chances against a pesky Maryland defense that already holds two shutouts on the season.
Three things to watch
1. How will Maryland respond to its first loss of the season? The Terps got off to a booming start this season, winning their first two games pretty handily and stringing together a great comeback win in their third. After suffering a 3-1 loss to the Navy, Maryland was faced with its first real adversity of the season. The Terps put together a pretty complete offensive performance against Navy in defeat and showed some signs of how they’ll respond to hardship in the game.
“It’s gonna be a great test on Thursday, to see how we do respond,” Maryland head coach Ray Leone said. “If you look at the actual game of Navy, we responded within the game very well. We go down 2-1 and we go right back end-to-end and hit the post. So I think, you know, that was a good indication of how they’re going to respond.”
2. What will the Terps’ lineup look like? In four games this season, Leone has put out four different starting lineups. Star forward Alyssa Poarch has missed the past two games due to load management, but Maryland has also welcomed back great talents like midfielder Hope Lewandowski. Lewandowski is playing in a more offensive role up top since her return, while players such as forward Emily McNesby have been playing up to three positions in one game. Leone credits the different lineups to the versatility of each player.
“Older players are used to this,” Leone said. “Because, basically, sometimes a sub is just changing somebody from one position to the other. We got a lot of players that [have] very versatile skillsets, so why wouldn’t you use them instead of just saying, that’s it, I only play wide receiver and that’s it. So, if we have people that can do that, we’ll continue to do it.”
3. Will we begin to see more of Hope Lewandowski? The starting midfielder has had a phenomenal impact on the program these past four years. In her fifth year as a graduate student, Lewandowski looks to make a lot of noise for the Terps. The Newbury, Ohio, native is returning from a long and arduous recovery process following knee surgery and a hip injury. Lewandowski has played everywhere from center back to midfield, recording four goals and four assists. She has only registered 47 minutes in two games but scored a near goal against Navy last time out. Lewandowski is back sooner than initially expected and is ready for the long haul for the Terps.
“[I’m] just trying to be patient with my minutes and not get too ahead of myself,” Lewandowski said. “...For me right now, I want to focus on quality over quantity of minutes. I want to make sure that I can reach the end of the season and feel good rather than dragging my feet and barely making it.”