By: Bryan Jones
There was optimism around the Maryland women’s soccer team during Tuesday’s media day. The team has an undefeated record and already matched its win total from all of last season.
Second-year head coach Ray Leone and senior captain Hope Gouterman addressed the media as the leaders of a team that has a 3-0-1 record after finishing last season a disappointing 3-15-1.
Gouterman shared her excitement about the present and the future of the program, but does not believe that there was a single moment when she felt the team click. She felt that over the spring, the freshmen fit in really well with the existing group, creating a bunch of little moments that made her realize they had something special.
Gouterman also praised the honesty of the coaches and described how that is the pitch for the program that brought in a top 25 recruiting class in the country.
“If you want to go to a place where you are going to work for what you get, this is the place for you,” Gouterman said.
A big part of the program’s optimism is because of the emergence of freshman Mikayla Dayes, who has brought a spark to the program. She leads the team with three goals and is tied for third-most in the Big Ten.
Dayes was crucial in the Terps’ victory over Gardner-Webb. She scored both goals in the 2-1 victory, including the game winner at the 104 minute mark. Not only is Dayes scoring at the same rate as the the best in the Big Ten, but she is doing it efficiently, on just 11 shots. Her scoring efficiency even earned her Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors.
“In the box, [Dayes] is so natural,” Leone said. “She has a way of knowing where she is without looking.”
Leone also addressed the goalkeeping situation Tuesday by offering praise of senior Rachel Egyed, despite starting sophomore Erin Seppi against Gardner-Webb. Seppi made one save in 45 minutes.
“Rachel has done extremely well,” Leone said. He also noted that “we were excited to give [Seppi] some time and she is a confident, experienced goalkeeper.”
Leone is not concerned about hurting chemistry by switching up goaltenders and defenders. He insists that the team has opportunities to work together during practice. Leone also mentioned that he values versatility among his players so that they can play different positions and it plays a crucial role in targeting specific recruits.
The Terps have a chance to surpass last season’s win total Thursday night at Ludwig Field against Richmond.