2021 Maryland women’s soccer season preview

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

Maryland women’s soccer will take the field for the first time in what seems like forever this Saturday.

“We’re talking about 470 something days since we’ve played a regular game,” head coach Ray Leone said. “Can you believe that?”

The Terps play Michigan State in their home opener, who they beat 1-0 in East Lansing in the last fixture between the two.

The season was originally supposed to be played in the fall. However, due to COVID-19, the season was pushed back until the spring.

“There have been lots of ups and downs, just emotionally,” Leone said. “I just think we’re excited to play anybody.”

Senior midfielder Hope Lewandowski attested to that same idea.

“The last however many years of my life have been so soccer driven, finding motivation was sometimes hard,” Lewandowski said. “We’re just really excited to get back.”

Despite the negatives, Lewandowski can still find positives about their extended time off.

“Because we usually play in the fall we’re just jumping in, and you don’t really know the freshmen as well. “But now we’ve had the last six months to bond. I know these girls really well now. Having that time has really benefited us.”

The Terps will play an 11 game conference-only schedule, with an additional “wildcard weekend” planned for April 8-11.

Despite the Terps clinching their first ever berth to the Big Ten Tournament last season, they are ranked 12th in the Big Ten’s Preseason Poll.

Senior defender Malikae Dayes and her twin sister forward Mikayla Dayes were named to the Big Ten Women’s Soccer Players to Watch List. Redshirt junior forward Alyssa Poarch was also named on the list.

Leone discussed his goals for this season.

“To have fun and see these kids smiling again and playing together,” Leone said. “I’ve hated driving by empty soccer fields.”

He won’t have to wait much longer. However, in an already hectic season the Terps have already been thrown a curveball.

Due to inclement weather on Thursday, the game and time has moved from Ludwig Field at 2 p.m. to Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium at 4:30 p.m., as Capital One Field has a turf surface. This is the first time in Maryland women’s soccer history that they will play at Maryland Stadium.