After coming off its first win away from Ludwig Field since Sept. 22, 2017, Maryland women’s soccer hits the road again to face Ohio State on Thursday.
The Terrapins are red-hot in conference play, picking up two wins in the last two games, one of which was against No. 20 Rutgers.
“We really wanted to win,” defender Malikae Dayes said. “Everyone was all in, we all gave 110%.”
The Terrapins have struggled in recent years during conference play, yet to make a postseason appearance since joining the Big Ten in 2014. Two wins in the first three games is a promising sign of extra games come November.
In the win over Rutgers, Maryland got out in front early, netting two goals before the Scarlet Knights answered with one of their own. The victory was the first against a ranked opponent since November 2018.
“The growth of their mentality was really what I was looking for,” head coach Ray Leone said. “They did it, they played really hard under incredible conditions.”
Ohio State Buckeyes (3-6-1, 1-2 Big Ten)
A slow start in Columbus is an unusual sign for the Buckeyes, as they haven’t finished a season under the .500 mark since 2014.
This year, Ohio State struggled from the get-go, winless in its first five games. The team’s only Big Ten win came against Michigan State, who ranked last in the conference’s preseason standings. The Buckeyes dropped a game against Michigan, a team that has yet to lose in the Big Ten, and Minnesota, who the Terrapins defeated 2-0.
A historic program for Ohio State has the team optimistic heading into the bulk of conference play and opponents still on their heels. The team looks to continue a streak of four consecutive NCAA tournament appearances.
“Ohio State’s been to the Final Four, they’ve been Big Ten champs,” Leone said. “They’re as good as it gets.”
Players to know
Kayla Fischer, sophomore forward No. 2 — In her freshman campaign last season, Fischer tied for a team-high four goals — a number that she’s already matched this season. The leading scorer for the Buckeyes earned Big Ten All-Freshman Team honors last season and has continued to be an offensive threat this year, logging 27 more shots than the next player on the team.
Jordan Silkowitz, redshirt freshman goalkeeper No. 18 — Silkowitz has made the most of her first year in goal for the Buckeyes, averaging 1.46 goals per game through the first 10 contests. The Virginia native has tallied 31 saves this season, with a ton of work coming her way in six defensive-heavy games.
Marissa Birzon, junior forward No. 11 — After starting all 19 matches a season ago, Birzon is tied for the team-high with four goals in 2019. The forward has yet to earn her first assist of the year after totaling two last year with a compliment of three goals.
Three things to watch
1. Can the Terrapins win again on the road? Before the win in New Jersey, Maryland lacked a road victory in over two years. With three of their next four games away from College Park, the Terrapins will need some more magic to earn much needed wins in enemy territory.
“Playing on the road is definitely hard,” Poarch said. “We just have to carry what we did against Rutgers to Ohio State.”
2. Will Maryland keep rolling in conference play? The Terrapins ranked second-to-last in the conference’s preseason poll, but sit in third place heading into Thursday’s matchup. A postseason bid would be the team’s first in the Big Ten, as well as the first since an ACC appearance in 2013.
“We just have to stay focused and stick with the game plan,” Dayes said. “We’ll go from there.”
3. Can Maryland take advantage of Ohio State’s struggles? The Buckeyes have only scored multiple goals in two out of 10 games this season. Their leading scorer also only has four goals, while Maryland forward Alyssa Poarch has six and fellow forward Mikayla Dayes has four of her own.
The Terrapins have been known to jump out early on teams this year, with multiple goals coming within the first minutes of play. If Maryland can come out of the gate hot in Columbus, it’ll be hard for the Buckeyes to keep up.