Entering Friday night’s contest against No. 17 Purdue, the Maryland wrestling team was looking to rewrite the narrative of its season.

This season has been a struggle for the Terps, mainly because of injuries to projected starters Ryan Diehl, Jaron Smith and DB Whisler and the unexplained absence of U-23 silver medalist Youssif Hemida, who had missed every match except for an exhibition in November.

While Hemida’s return couldn’t save the Terps from a 28-10 defeat at Holloway Gymnasium, head coach Kerry McCoy was impressed by the effort and thinks his team is trending upward.

“We’re moving in the right direction,” he said. “We won three matches and got over the two-match hump. Obviously we don’t want to lose. … If we had some of this effort in some of our other matches, then things might be different.”

Maryland (0-4, 0-1 Big Ten) struggled mightily to start the dual. 125-pounder Brandon Cray, 133-pounder Orion Anderson and 141-pounder Michael Doetsch all lost decisively, which buried the Terps in an early 12-0 hole.

The Maryland bench remained energized throughout these defeats, with wrestlers leaping from their chairs to cheer on their ill-fated teammates. That show of support was encouraging to Hemida, a senior captain.

“We try to be more motivated,” Hemida said. “We try to get everyone to get excited to go out there and wrestle hard.”

Fellow captain Alfred Bannister got Maryland on the board with a 12-3 major decision over Parker Filius in the 149-pound weight class, but the success was short-lived.

157-pounder Adam Whitesell started strong by throwing around No. 7 Griffin Parriott for a few takedowns, but Parriott withstood the flurry. The two battled back-and-forth before Parriott ultimately pulled away and won by a score of 9-6.

After the intermission, 165-pound redshirt freshmen Philip Spadafora came out hot and picked up a decision victory to keep the Terps’ hopes alive.

“He had the will to win,” McCoy said. “When we have guys who have the will to win, good things happen.”

That’s the closest the team would come. 174-pounder Josh Ugalde injured his hamstring late in his match after landing awkwardly while defending a takedown. The Bound Brook, New Jersey, native was able to finish the match, but he fell by a score of 14-3, and his status for Sunday at Indiana remains up in the air.

“He’s walking now, better than he was during the match,” McCoy said. “He’s got 48 hours.”

Filling in for the injured Whisler, 197-pounder Niko Cappello drew one of the toughest matchups of the night against No. 9 Christian Brunner. Cappello fought hard but fell behind 11-2 before suffering a pinfall loss in the second period.

The Terps ended on a positive note thanks to the return of Hemida. The 2018 NCAA qualifier’s season debut for Maryland was a successful one, as he defeated Purdue’s Jacob Aven by a score of 3-2 in the heavyweight class.

While Hemida was pleased with his victory, he knows he can be better than what he showed.

“It felt good to get some jitters out,” Hemida said. “I was frustrated with how I wrestled, but it’s all good.”

But with most of Hemida’s teammates overmatched, the senior could only do so much as the Terps suffered their fifth straight winless start to conference play.