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Maryland women’s soccer looks to build upon strong start against NJIT on Sunday

The Terps face their second opponent of the season after defeating Georgia Southern 2-1 earlier this week.

Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

In a quick turnaround from their first game of the season, Maryland women’s soccer is back at Ludwig Sunday afternoon to take on the New Jersey Institute of Technology. The Terps are coming off a 2-1 victory over Georgia Southern in their first game of the season on Thursday and look to keep rolling to cap off a strong opening weekend. It was the third consecutive year the team picked up a win in its first contest.

Wasting no time in the match, redshirt sophomore Alyssa Poarch netted the team’s first goal of the year in the second minute. As the team’s offensive leader heading into the season, Poarch proved to be the threat that coach Ray Leone needs her to be on the attack.

Mikayla Dayes also scored her first goal of the season against the Eagles. While being dragged down by a defender, the junior forward finessed her way into the box and gave the Terps a 2-1 lead that they would hold onto for the remainder of the contest.

After several down seasons, Leone is looking to turn the program around, and a win in Sunday’s contest against NJIT could be a momentum-builder.

NJIT Highlanders (0-0-1, 0-0 ASun)

2018 record: 11-5-2

Coming off its best season in over 15 years, the New Jersey Institute of Technology lost a majority of its core group from 2018, but it still has six seniors on the roster. The team’s biggest loss is its goalkeeper, Amelia Sapirman, who started all 18 games last year.

In its first game, NJIT went to double overtime in a home match against University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Although the contest ended in a tie, the Terriers controlled the offense from start to finish. With almost double the amount of shots as NJIT, the highlanders had to depend on their defense to avoid a first game loss.

Players to know

Fiona Wright, sophomore forward, No. 28 - With 11 goals in 2018, Wright was by far the biggest offensive threat for NJIT in her freshman campaign. Her postseason accolades included Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Rookie of the Year and second team All-Region. The Canada native didn’t play in the first game of the season due to unannounced reasons but is expected to be in the lineup against the Terps.

Tara Walenczyk, junior forward, No. 20 - Walenczyk is NJIT’s second leading returning scorer from last season after netting four goals in 13 appearances. The junior failed to put any balls on goal in the season opener, finishing the game without a single shot.

Molly Saylor, sophomore goalkeeper, No. 00 - After sitting out for the majority of 2018 behind graduate student Sapirman, Saylor now has the opportunity to gain playing time as the new starter for the Highlanders. In 103 minutes in the season opener, Saylor made three saves.

Three things to watch

  1. Can Maryland keep up the offensive pressure for a second straight game? After having a down year offensively in 2018, Maryland lost its leading scorer Jarena Harmon to graduation. In the first game of the season, Poarch and Mikayla Dayes combined for 10 of the team’s shots. They’ll look to continue to stay hot on the attack in the second game of the year.
  2. Will NJIT score its first goal of the season? In over 100 minutes of play in the season opener, the Highlanders failed to convert on a number of opportunities. With the absence of Wright, the team’s leading scorer, NJIT had trouble turning to another threat on the attack. Wright will likely be in the lineup on Sunday and could be a key factor in putting points on the board for the Highlanders.
  3. Will Maryland be able to build on its last victory? For the second straight season, Maryland took its first game 2-1. Last year, however, the Terps lost their second game in demoralizing fashion, giving up three goals without answering. In the win over Georgia Southern, the team proved that it could build off a down year in 2018, but can Leone push the Terps to a 2-0 start?