When Maryland women’s soccer’s Mikayla Dayes attempted to cut off a pass near midfield during a 1-0 victory over Richmond in 2017, she had no idea the challenge would be her last of the season.

The 60th-minute tackle attempt resulted in a collision between Dayes and Spiders midfielder Lindsey Williams. The freshman, who just days prior was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week, suffered a season-ending knee injury that derailed what had been a productive start to her college career.

Now, after missing a full season of game action, Dayes is finally back in the lineup and showing flashes of the talent she exhibited at the start of last season.

“It feels really good to get back in the game,” Dayes said. “It’s been very exciting, especially being a larger impact [in] helping the team.”

[Read more: Maryland women’s soccer came alive after halftime against No. 22 Wisconsin]

Dayes started four of the team’s first five games last year, netting three goals and two assists. Her three-goal total was tied for first on the team at year end, and her eight points was the most on the team despite playing only a fraction of the season.

When her season came to a halt against the Spiders, Dayes was forced to take on a new role. It was a hard transition, she said, but it allowed her to see a different side of being a teammate. She spent time on the sidelines encouraging and offering constructive criticism to those in the lineup to help them improve.

But it took a while for the sophomore to get back in game shape. Although she’s played in all 13 of the Terps games, she’s started only six. Coach Ray Leone was cautious with Dayes in the first five matches, limiting the forward to about 30 minutes of playing time.

Dayes’ role has since expanded, but Sunday’s draw at No. 22 Wisconsin was her first time playing more than 58 minutes. Having only played in about 40 percent of possible minutes so far, Dayes has had to make the most of her opportunities on the pitch.

[Read more: Maryland women’s soccer has a first-half problem]

Against Rutgers on Sept. 23, Maryland needed someone in the attack to step up to break the scoreless draw. Goalkeeper Rachel Egyed launched a cross-field goal kick, and Dayes got behind the Scarlet Knights defense and thrashed a hard shot on goal.

The attempt careened off the right crossbar, and the Terps eventually fell, 2-1, in overtime to Rutgers in the rain-soaked match. The moment of brilliance, however, was a reminder of what Dayes can provide to the Maryland attack.

The sophomore returning to her rookie form could be a boost to a Maryland attack that ranks last in the Big Ten with 11 goals and .92 goals per game.

“She’s still got a ways to go,” Leone said. “She’s trying hard every day, but it still isn’t there yet. … She’s getting better every game.”