In Ray Leone’s first season as head coach, Maryland women’s soccer struggled amid a shortened roster and inconsistent play. However, Leone brought in a top-25 recruiting class for reinforcements in 2017, and the Terps enter the season with a roster 13 players bigger than they had last season.
To begin the season, Maryland faces Drexel in College Park on Friday. The game starts at 7 p.m. ET.
Head coach Ray Goon. Goon has been the head coach for the past 21 years, ever since Drexel brought its women’s soccer program back. He was named the Colonial Athletic Association’s Coach of the Year in both 2012 and 2016 after finishing second in the conference in both seasons.
Players to know
Vanessa Kara, junior, forward/midfield, No. 2. Kara was Drexel’s leading scorer last season with 17 points and came in second on the team with six goals. The Junior has been one of Drexel’s most productive players and she has started in each of the 38 games she has played in her collegiate career.
Shaelyn McCarty, junior, forward/midfield, No. 6. After a slow start to her career, McCarty had a breakout season last year. Her seven goals lead the team, and her 15 points only trailed Kara for the lead. Additionally, she attempted the most shots on the team last year with 64.
Goalkeeper. Last year, Christiana Ogunsami played in 20 games for Drexel, starting 19 and playing all but 100 minutes over the season. She finished the year with a .858 save percentage, which ranked 20 in the country. In 16 of Drexel’s 20 games in 2016, the Dragons held the opposition to a single goal or less.
Scoring. Last season, Drexel struggled on offense, only scoring 22 goals all season. That tied for 201st in the country, and the Dragons’ 1.10 goals per game ranked 233rd in 2016. This is a new season, but other players will need to step up in order to be competitive.
Three things to watch
- Will the Terps score? Last year, Maryland finished the season on a six-game scoreless streak despite playing good defense. While this is the start to a new year, the Terps need to break the scoring seal early in the game, not allowing for any doubt to creep into their minds.
- How much will the freshmen contribute? Ray Leone reeled in the country’s 25th ranked recruiting class this year, and the Terps need them to contribute immediately after last season’s struggles. Of the 14 new freshman, Alyssa Poarch is the name to watch, as she should help contribute on offense right away next to leading scorers Chelsea Jackson and Jerena Harmon.
- How will Rachel Egyed perform as the starting goalkeeper? Ray Leone began last season using a goalkeeper rotation, but Egyed earned the full-time job midseason. Now, with an offseason as starter under her belt, Egyed could break out if she’s given the chance to play big minutes this season.