Maryland women’s soccer hosts No. 17 Rutgers to continue homestand

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

Maryland (0-4-1 B1G) takes on No. 17 Rutgers (4-1 B1G) on Saturday at Ludwig Field, still looking for its first win of the season.

Maryland has dropped its last four games after tying its season opener against Michigan State. However, after a positive performance in a loss against No. 24 Indiana and a week to reflect and train, senior midfielder Hope Lewandoski is confident they can improve.

“To me this is the most talented group that I have played with so far,” Lewandoski said. “I see the things that we can do in practice and I see how well we work together and right now it might not exactly be translating, but that’s what’s kept me so optimistic about moving forward.”

Head coach Ray Leone talked about where he wanted the team to improve after the Indiana loss.

“Well, we’ve got to do better on this, on the simple parts of the game… because there were way too many fouls,” Leone said. “We did not concentrate when we did foul, and we have to improve that part of the game.”

If Maryland is able to get a favorable result, it will need to slow down Rutgers’ top scorer, senior forward Amirah Ali. The 2019 First Team All-American has scored three goals in the Scarlet Knights five games this season, and has a goal and two assists in three games against Maryland. 

Ali was also named National Player of the Week earlier this season after scoring a brace in Rutgers’ win over Penn State. Leone knows what a capable striker she is and how crucial slowing her down will be.

“You have to always know where she is,” Leone said. “She’s a great player. She’s very clever on through balls, she really wants to get in the seams and with her pace, it doesn’t take much. You have got to be on your game as a collective back four to keep her in front of you. It’s not easy.”

Rutgers jumped to No. 17 in the United Soccer Coaches poll after notching two home wins over Michigan State and Ohio State last week, continuing its impressive start to the season. In the season opener Rutgers defeated Penn State who was ranked No. 1 in the Big Ten preseason poll. The Scarlet Knights lone loss on the season was a 1-0 overtime road loss against Indiana.

The Terps won last season’s game against the Scarlet Knights 2-1, with goals from redshirt junior Alyssa Poarch and Hope Lewandoski sealing an away victory for Maryland in what’s been a very competitive series. Maryland is 7-5-1 all-time against Rutgers.

Saturday’s game against Rutgers will be the third of five consecutive home games for the Terps, followed by Michigan on Thursday at 3 p.m.