The Terrapins had a tough start to the season with a 15-13 loss at Penn State.
The Terps had a strong second half in State College and they will have a chance to build on some of the things they did well this Friday and Sunday when they return home to face Michigan.
A lot of attention has been focused on how young and inexperienced this Maryland roster is, so having a Big Ten game under their belt should be helpful in calming their nerves as the season gets fully underway.
Head coach Cathy Reese has talked a lot about the inexperience of her team, but she is not into making excuses.
“We have a lot of people that need experience, but it’s not an excuse for our play,” Reese said on Wednesday. “We didn’t execute, we didn’t finish our plays. We need to make sure we’re ready to go on Friday.”
Reese also identified three areas in which she wants to see improvement for this weekend. Maryland generated a lot of offense against Penn State, but shot just 34%. Reese expressed how that percentage needs to be higher in the 50s.
Another area where the Terps would like to improve is decreasing their turnovers. On Sunday Maryland was dominant on the draw, but it often didn’t matter because it turned the ball over quickly. Against the Nittany Lions, the Terps had 16 total turnovers, which will need to be improved against Michigan.
Defensively, Maryland needs to do a better job of winning its individual matchups in front of goalie Emily Sterling. The Terps young defense struggled early and often against Penn State, allowing many easy looks that the Nittany Lions took advantage of.
If Maryland can execute better in those three areas, they should have plenty of success this weekend.
Sister attackers Catie and Libby May will be looking to build off of their hot start to the season after they combined for 6 goals and 3 assists against Penn State. Defender Lizzie Colson is another player that had a very good opening week, causing four turnovers, a career-high for her.
“She’s one of the best in the country if not the best,” Reese said about Colson. “She’s doing a great job of leading the way by her play and by her voice.”
The Michigan Wolverines also opened up their season with a road loss on Sunday against Ohio State. Similar to Maryland, they rely on a lot of young talent, playing five freshmen against Ohio State.
While Michigan has talented young players, it was the veterans who made a big impact in their opener. Senior Molly Garrett scored four goals while seniors Caitlin Muir, Maggie Kane, and Nadine Stewart all scored two goals of their own.
The Wolverines entered the season ranked 9th in the IWLCA poll, but dropped to 17th after their loss at Ohio State. Both teams should come out with a high level of intensity on Friday, not wanting to start the season 0-2.
Having two games in three days in regular season play is definitely something new for these players and coaches, but Maryland is ready to embrace the weirdness of this pandemic-altered season.
“It almost feels like it’s tournament time,” Colson said. “We have that experience and we can kind of take the younger girls under our wing.”
Friday’s game begins at 4 p.m. while Sunday’s game is at noon.