This past weekend, Maryland women’s soccer showed both how far it’s come and how far it has to go.
The Terps had to deal with a couple two-goal deficits at home. While they completed the comeback against No. 12 Wisconsin, forcing a 2-2 draw, they failed to do the same in a 3-1 loss to Minnesota.
Yet, in both cases, the Terps continued to grow and learn about who they are.
“They’re growing,” Ray Leone said after the Wisconsin game. “This was an important game for them to know that they could do something like that.”
Maryland’s comeback vs. Wisconsin ensured that the team would finish with a better conference record than it did last season, when it had a 1-10 record. In those 10 losses, the Terps were outscored 31-5 and had eight defeats where they lost by at least two goals.
Therefore, the comeback was symbolic as well, since last year’s team wouldn’t have been able to mount a comeback like that against a team like Wisconsin.
“It allows us to believe in ourselves,” senior defender Hope Gouterman said. “Understanding that we can compete with the best of the best is really important.”
After a 6-0-1 start, this Maryland team has had a sluggish 1-3-1 record in Big Ten play with an increased level in competition. That has been in part due to adversity, as the team lost Mikayla Dayes and Chelsea Jackson for the year with ACL injuries. As a result, the offensive production has slowed: Maryland has just four goals in the five-game stretch.
“Just from looking at the people that we have injured right now, you can see that’s why [the offense] is inconsistent,” senior forward Madison Turner said. “We’ve just been struggling a lot with staying healthy.”
Like with last season, Maryland has dealt with different lineups and players not knowing which position they are playing each game. Leone has moved Turner, Jlon Flippens and Hope Lewandoski—a midfielder and two forwards—all over the field when necessary.
Unlike last season, the Terps are finding ways to compete despite this adversity, a testament to their improved depth and strong mentality this season.
“Our resolve, and our ability to find other people to step up and take that challenge is really important,” Gouterman said.
Therefore, this team is learning a lot about who it is in conference play. Freshmen like Gi Krstec, Anissa Mose and Sydney Staier have found themselves as important pieces for the team’s offense.
For Leone, the most important factor for Maryland moving forward is growing as a team. While the defense has played well as a unit, thanks to it being the more experienced group, the relatively young offense is still learning who it is.
“It is all about experiences together,” Leone said. “The more [experiences] we have together with Maryland, the more that we can draw upon those experiences.”
Maryland only has six games left to make a move in the Big Ten before the conference tournament begins. And while the Terps understand this urgency, they won’t let it distract them from growing along the way.