During the Maryland women’s soccer season opener, forward Jarena Harmon got the Terps off to an ideal start.
Midfielder Hope Lewandoski placed a pinpoint pass over the Tribe backline, and Harmon volleyed the ball home in traffic to give the Terps a 1-0 lead in the first five minutes of 2018.
Harmon’s early score appeared to set the tone for a Maryland team that struggled to find the back of the net down the stretch in 2017. But the Terps have since struggled to replicate this success in the beginning of games.
Coming out of the gates faster would help the Terps, who face Minnesota on the road Thursday, in their quest for multiple Big Ten wins for the first time since 2014.
“Our team just gets into the flow of the game a little slower,” forward Mikayla Dayes said. “We figure out how to beat the other teams a bit slower, so I think we need to figure it out a lot earlier so we can execute in the first half.”
[Read more: Maryland women’s soccer’s defense succumbed to Rutgers’ physical strikers late]
In its 11 games this year, Maryland (3-5-3, 1-2 Big Ten) has been outscored 5-3 in the first half. But the Terps have gotten the better of their opponents after intermission, outscoring them 9-7.
With the exception of their halftime advantage in their eventual 2-1 loss to Nebraska and 1-1 halftime ties against William & Mary and Appalachian State, the Terps have been held scoreless at the half in eight of their 11 contests. Scoring early will be key for the team going forward.
“The other teams are not doing much against us either [in the first half],” coach Ray Leone said. “So it just takes a little while to try to figure each other in the second half. We’ve definitely raised our game [after halftime].”
[Read more: Rutgers scores a minute into overtime to beat Maryland women’s soccer, 2-1]
Even in the Terps’ 4-0 victory over Iowa to open Big Ten play, they had a 7-4 shot deficit at the half. And in Maryland’s overtime loss to Nebraska, despite leading 1-0 after the first 45 minutes, they still trailed the Cornhuskers 5-2 in shot attempts.
So even though the Terps had a short practice week before facing the Golden Gophers (6-4-1, 2-1-1), they knew one area they needed to focus on.
“[We need to improve our] attacking mentality,” Leone said. “We just need to take the pressure of them and tell them to relax, and it’ll go in.”