Maryland women’s soccer midfielder Emily Kift understands the importance of winning early in the season.
As a goalie for the Terps women’s lacrosse squad the past three years, Kift had won plenty under coach Cathy Reese. Doing so early in the season, Kift said, sets the tone for the rest of the year.
Last season, Reese’s lacrosse team returned only five starters and worked with a roster that featured 10 freshmen. So when first-year coach Ray Leone asked his team to play name games early in the preseason, Kift understood the importance of the exercise. She’s used to seeing unfamiliar faces.
It didn’t take long for Reese and her starters to adjust, and to Kift’s surprise, it hasn’t taken Leone’s team much time, either. After a loss and a draw to start the season, the Terps have won two straight entering matches with Pepperdine and Appalachian State this weekend.
“This is a little different because there are so many new faces, but I think the preseason stuff and living in the dorms brought us together,” Kift said. “It’s been cool to see how fast our team has bonded.”
Four games into the season, defender Sarah Kovalchick said Maryland’s ability to overcome adversity early in games has helped it have success.
In the Terps’ first win of the season, William & Mary scored about two minutes into the first half. Forward Jarena Harmon then notched a hat trick, and Maryland’s back line didn’t give in after the team took the lead in the 63rd minute.
Against Penn, midfielders Darby Moore and Cassie Phillips each scored within the first 12 minutes in their first starts of the season. Leone said the Terps offense had the best chemistry it’s had this season in the 3-1 win.
In the eyes of midfielder Hope Gouterman, it’s been an effective start for a team with 14 new players.
“Each person that has either come or returned has brought something different to the table,” Gouterman said. “That’s what has made us come together so quickly. [The new players’ fight] has been infectious to the entire team, and that’s what has impressed me the most.”
Maryland emphasized using a balanced attack entering the season. But through each of the Terps’ first two games — an overtime loss to TCU and a draw with Gardner-Webb — forward Chelsea Jackson produced the squad’s lone scores.
That changed against the Quakers, as three different players found the back of the net. With multiple scoring threats, the Terps hope they can continue their recent play in the second part of the nonconference slate.
“It’s just showing what we’re capable of and showing we can compete with these big-time teams,” Kift said. “It’s nice to show when we’re working hard and listening to what Ray is saying, it’s paying off in games.”