After a 12-day layoff, the Terps (2-1) will take the field against in-state rival Johns Hopkins on Friday at 3:00 p.m.
Maryland (2-1) is coming off of back-to-back impressive home wins against Michigan while Hopkins (2-3) is coming off of back-to-back wins of their own at Ohio State.
“We love to be in a season where we’re playing two games a week but it’s a different experience for us,” head coach Cathy Reese said. “The first couple days [of the break] are just for making sure our bodies are rested and back on track, and then we can have a 10-day period to focus on what we need to do better.”
One area where Maryland has been improving through three games is its defense. Coming into the season, the inexperience on defense was a concern for Reese and it showed in the Terps opening loss to Penn State. However, in their last two games against Michigan, the Terps have tightened up on defense and decreased the amount of goals given up.
A young and inexperienced unit needs to play with strong communication and a sense of confidence, something that Maryland has been improving on as they continue to practice.
“Confidence is huge for our unit as a whole,” sophomore goalie Emily Sterling said. “We’re really starting to trust each other, learn how everyone plays, and learn how everyone moves together as one which is all really important. We’re all just taking it day by day and fixing little things at a time.”
Yet, Maryland’s two wins have been in large part due to its offensive prowess. One of the Terps biggest strengths has been driving to the net and taking advantage of the space given to them by the defense. Through three games, a different player has led the team in goals each game.
“We’ve got a good mix of attackers on the offensive end,” Reese said. “People whose strengths are one-on-one dodging, catching inside and scoring, and feeding. We want to score a lot of goals and we don’t care who does it.”
One standout so far on the Terps offense has been sophomore attacker Hannah Leubecker, who was recently named Big Ten offensive player of the week. Leubecker had a 10-goal weekend against Michigan, including seven goals in the first game.
Johns Hopkins had a tough start to the season, dropping its first game to Rutgers and then two in a row to Northwestern to begin the season 0-3. Back-to-back wins against Ohio State have given the Blue Jays a chance to get back to .500 with a win on Friday.
Hopkins has struggled to score so far this season, averaging just under 10 goals a game through five outings. They’ve also struggled on the draw, getting 47 draw controls compared to 79 by their opponents. If they cannot improve on the draw against Maryland, it could be a long day.
They have been led this season by senior attacker Aurora Cordingley who has 10 goals and seven assists so far on the season. Another player to watch will be midfielder Abbey Hurlbrink, who recently took home Big Ten Freshman of the Week honors after her impressive performances against Ohio State.
It’s always an exciting matchup when Maryland meets Johns Hopkins because of the in-state proximity and the relationships that players already have with each other.
“We know a lot of those girls, my little cousin is on that team,” senior attacker Brindi Griffin said. “We all know each other, we’re all friends so it’s always an exciting game against them.”