Maryland women’s soccer is coming off a huge win over a tough Princeton team as it enters Big Ten play. A 3-0 victory was headlined by coach Leone’s 300th career win, midfielder Jlon Flippens’ return from an ACL injury and a two-goal performance by forward Alyssa Poarch.
With the win against the Tigers on Sunday, the Terps remain unbeaten at home this year, either winning or tying five contests in College Park. Their opponent on Friday — Wisconsin —is Maryland’s hardest matchup to date.
“It’s always protect this house, it doesn’t matter who’s coming,” defender Julia New said. “We can’t really control the outcome, we can control how we do in the moment.”
Flippens came back to the lineup Sunday after missing over a year with a knee injury. Wasting no time in her return, she earned the first of two assists on the day within the first four minutes of action. The senior has solidified her role already as a key factor in the Terp attack.
“My goal was to just complete the first pass and just relax,” Flippens said. “I wasn’t expecting to have such a good performance, I was just trying to survive for 15, 20 minutes.”
Wisconsin Badgers (4-2-1, 0-0 Big Ten)
Wisconsin has made a name for itself this season, as the team ranked No. 3 in the conference preseason poll and currently sit sat 29th nationally. The team’s only losses came to UCLA and Florida State, who rank No. 5 and No. 6, respectively.
The Badgers have made it to at least the second round of the NCAA tournament in each of their last three seasons, as well as deep trips into the Big Ten postseason in those years.
“Wisconsin has been in the top-four [of the conference] for quite some time,” Leone said. “It’s a good measuring stick to see how we match up for them, and I think we’re ready for that.”
This season, four of the team’s seven games have gone to overtime. A lack of goals has made the Badgers play extra, but with no shortage of success. Their record in those four games is 2-1-1.
Players to know
Dani Rhodes, senior forward No. 15 - The Wisconsin native led the team in points in 2018 with 22. Rhodes has also netted 10 or more goals in back-to-back seasons — the only Badger to do so. This year, the senior has tallied two goals and two assists in seven games.
Jordyn Bloomer, redshirt junior goalkeeper No. 24 - The Badgers’ last line of defense has been dominant this season. In seven starts, Bloomer has allowed just four goals and earned three shutouts. She started all 22 games last season with a 0.83 goals against average.
Cameron Murtha, junior forward No. 25 - Murtha ranked second on the team in goals last season with six, but also notched a team-high five assists. In her junior campaign, the Maryland native has two goals and has started all seven games.
Three things to watch
1. How can Maryland take a big win into Friday? Sunday’s win against Princeton was an upset on its own, but a 3-0 blowout was something completely different. Heading into conference play, Maryland needed a big victory to boost its confidence after a disappointing finish in the previous game against Temple. As the second-to-last ranked team in the Big Ten heading into the season, a little bit of momentum can carry this Terp team as a season-long underdog.
“It’s a good stepping-stone into Big Ten play,” Flippens said. “To have a huge result like this against a good team gives us confidence and makes us believe in ourselves that we can play these top-notch teams and have a top-notch performance”
2. Who will step up big? It seems as if there has been a different hero in each of Maryland’s four wins this season. Last game, Flippens came back for her first game of 2019 and contributed with two assists. Going up against such a dangerous team in Wisconsin, someone new will have to come up big to push the Terps over the top in College Park.
3. How will the Terps start conference play? Maryland has won a total of eight conference games in its last five seasons. The national rankings has Big Ten teams all over it, so Maryland won’t catch an easy game for the rest of the season.
“The mindset is really just focusing on us,” New said. “This is our game, it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. It’s about how we play and decide to show up.”