Nearing the halfway point of the season, the Maryland women’s soccer attack is still a work in progress. After scoring five goals in the first three games of the season, the team has only scored one goal in the last 455 minutes of play.
The struggles haven’t been limited to this season, either. To cap off last season, the Terps went the final six games without scoring a goal, and only scored five goals in all of Big Ten play.
Despite the fact that the team is entering the more difficult portion of the season, head coach Ray Leone still believes the offensive unit can turn it around.
“Obviously we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Leone said Wednesday. “The thing about that as well is that probably part of [the constant substitutions] is that we’ve not developed complete chemistry with a set of forwards, so that’s something that’s gotta start going in this game and every game on is that.
“I feel like the backs and the midfield are really figuring it out, but the forwards are not. They’re not really being as aware of each other as they should and that’s something we really have to focus on right now.”
While the offense has had its struggles thus far, Leone has seen improvement from the attack in the last few games.
“They’re close. At least in the last game [we had] 23 shots, a lot more corners ... at least they’re creating chances,” he said. “There were games last year where we had two or three chances the whole game, and this time we’re creating many more chances but we’ve just got to be efficient.”
The optimism doesn’t end with Leone either. His players having been exhibiting the same confidence in their growth heading into the Big Ten.
“We’re much more organized and composed,” senior forward Jarena Harmon said of how this team compares to last year’s entering conference play. “I think we’re just better as a unit, we’re playing together not individually, so I think that’ll make a big difference going into the Big Ten.”
The improvement the team made, however marginal, has been noticeable as of late: Maryland has had double-digit shots in four of its last six games, including at least 17 shots in three of those contests. So while the chances are there, it’ll come down to execution near the goal if the team’s gonna have success going forward.
“The missing component is basically just getting it in the net, so obviously we’re gonna work on that, and we are, but the way that we’re moving up the field and doing it as a unit is making such a big difference that we’re getting more shots on goal, we’re getting more opportunities, we’re staying the opposing team’s half, so it’s much better,” Harmon said.
At the very least, Maryland will find itself in familiar territory. With a team full of senior leadership that’s persevered through difficult seasons, the Terps think they can finally find success against Big Ten opponents. They’ll get their first chance Friday night against Iowa at 7 p.m. ET.
“I think, first and foremost, we’ve taken all our seasons and have been actually been able to learn from it. I’ve been with this team [for four years now] and I can say at least from my experience, me and a few other of the senior girls have really been able to learn from everything,” junior midfielder Darby Moore said.
“This year I feel like our team is more connected, on and off the field, and I think it’ll prove itself in every single one of our conference games, and we’re ready for every fight we can take.”