Coming into 2019, Maryland women’s soccer is in a rebuilding phase as it looks to improve on a down year. After closing the season with one win in their last 10 games, the Terps ended with a record of 4-10-5.
They’ve lost some major pieces, so making a marked jump won’t be easy. In the Big Ten preseason poll, the Terps were ranked 13th out of the 14 squads in the conference. But despite some holes to fill from last season, the team still has some firepower retaking the field — Juniors Malikae Dayes and Mikayla Dayes, along with redshirt sophomore Alyssa Poarch, were named to the Preseason Big Ten Honors List.
Enter a group of newcomers with potential, and there’s reason to have some excitement for the upcoming season. Here’s a look at what the team has in store.
Maryland lost four seniors from its 2018 campaign, and each was a strong contributor to the team. Last season’s leading scorer, Jarena Harmon, will certainly be the biggest hole to fill on offense. In 12 starts across 19 appearances, she netted six goals along with an assist.
With Rachel Egyed having graduated, the Terps are without the anchor of their defense as well. The standout started 16 of 19 games and her performance landed her a spot on the All-Big Ten Third Team, earning conference honors for a second consecutive season.
The Terps will also be without seniors Jenna Surdick and Kady Badham. The former started 15 games in 2018 and led the on-field defensive unit for Maryland while the latter tallied 751 minutes in 13 appearances.
The loss of Harmon will be felt in a big way, as the next leading scorer on the team last season only had two goals. The Terrapins will be looking for new threats this season after scoring a measly 0.84 goals per game in 2018, which was tied for 284th out of 333 NCAA programs.
Redshirt sophomore Alyssa Poarch will likely fill the role of Harmon this season. She’s Maryland’s leading returning scorer after an impressive first year where she tallied two goals, including this one in a conference bout against Michigan.
BOOM!— Maryland W. Soccer (@TerpsWSoccer) October 19, 2018
Freshman Alyssa Poarch buries a rebound off a corner kick to put the #Terps ahead 1-0! #FearTheTurtle pic.twitter.com/BZmHsW2qvT
The two other players on the conference’s preseason watch list, Malikae and Mikayla Dayes, will also be expected to make big strides. The former returns as the only player to start all 19 games a season ago. Mikayla, who started eight games and appeared in all 19, assisted on one goal last year. She’s shown potential for more production, however, as she scored three goals in five games in her freshman year before suffering a season-ending knee injury.
Midfielders Darby Moore, Hope Lewandoski, Anissa Mose and Loren Sefcik could also contribute to the offensive effort this season, controlling the middle of the field and building the attack towards the goal.
On the other side of the ball, senior Erin Seppi should take over in goal for Egyed — Seppi saw playing time in five games last season. On a Maryland team that has struggled to keep possession, defender Adalee Broadbent will lead the backline. The sophomore played a team-high 1,706 minutes in 2018.
Joining the pre-existing young core of this Maryland team are seven true freshman. Among the new Terps are forwards Keyera Wynn and Kaylee Kozlowski, midfielders Brooke Weston and Olivia Hicks, defender Mia Isaac and goalkeepers Kennedy Tolson and Nicole Kwoczka.
Only one of the first-year players comes from the state of Maryland, as Leone continues to build the program from around the country. Kozlowski (Virginia Beach, Va.) could be a breakout player after scoring 54 career goals in her high school career and earning All-America honors in her senior season.
The Terps will also be seeing Taylor Whitmer for the first time this season after she took a redshirt as a freshman in 2018. The forward/midfielder hasn’t played since 2017 after sitting out her senior year due to injury.
Maryland begins its season with eight non-conference matches — last year, the Terps went 2-3-3 before getting into a tough Big Ten schedule. After two quick matchups against Georgia Southern on Thursday, Aug. 22, and the New Jersey Institute of Technology on Sunday, Aug. 25, Maryland will partake in the Bulldog Classic down in Athens, Georgia, where they’ll face Auburn and Georgia of the Southeastern Conference.
Once they get into Big Ten play, the Terps’ season gets significantly more difficult. The first conference game of the year is a home matchup against the No. 16 team in the nation, Wisconsin. The two teams squared last year in Madison, where the Terps managed to take the Badgers to double overtime and force a scoreless draw.
The Terps are fortunate to avoid the powerhouse in the conference, defending Big Ten champion Penn State. Without the top-ranked team in the conference on the schedule, No. 2-ranked Rutgers becomes Maryland’s toughest opponent. After a 2-1 overtime loss in 2018, the Terps will look for a revenge game in New Jersey on Saturday, Sept. 28.
Right around the corner
With Big Ten play still in the distance, Maryland turns to its first test of the season against Georgia Southern. Last year, the Eagles finished with a record of 5-12, 3-7 in Sun Belt Conference play. Forward Maddie Klintworth led the team with eight points and three goals in her sophomore campaign. Georgia Southern lost its other leading scorer, Ashton Adams, to graduation after a three goal season in 2018.
The Eagles haven’t had a season over the .500 mark since their 2014 campaign when they finished with a 11-6-2 record. Maryland will be their first opponent from a Power Five conference since 2017, and the only one this season.
In an offense that has struggled recently, Georgia Southern is mainly a defensive team, scoring only 16 total goals last season — just like Maryland. The Terps will look to strike first in what should be a close first matchup of the year for this young group at Ludwig Field.