Maryland women’s soccer midfielder/forward Madison Turner scored the first goal of her college career against Southern Methodist on Sept. 6, 2015.
Until Sept. 3, 2017, the versatile senior hadn’t found the back of the net again.
But four days after her headed score helped the Terps beat George Mason, she converted for the second time this season to give the Terps an early lead in a 1-0 victory against William and Mary.
Turner isn’t the likeliest source of the goals, but her recent form has been a large part of why the Terps (6-0-1) finished their nonconference slate without a loss.
“That was a really great performance from her,” coach Ray Leone said after the William and Mary contest. “Probably her best one of the year.”
In the handful of games Turner has played this season, she’s been an energetic outlet, usually in the right wing position. But in conjunction with Leone’s philosophy of tactical flexibility, she’s been used on both wings, in the central midfield and up top as a striker.
Wherever she’s gone, she’s performed well.
Against William and Mary, she played everywhere across the front line. Her goal — a strike from a tight angle while one-on-one with the goalkeeper after a through ball from forward Jarena Harmon — illustrated her success running behind the defense in the attacking channels.
“She was really active tonight,” Leone said. “She was dynamic, moving all over the place. Her mobility was fantastic.”
The South Bend, Indiana, native not only paces Maryland with her movement, but she has spearheaded the team in its efforts in front of goal.
Last season, she started all 19 matches for the Terps and took 10 shots. She’s started in six of seven this campaign and already fired 21 attempts, nine of which were on target.
“[I’m feeling] just more confidence,” Turner said. “I’m taking more chances and taking half-chances — something that’s not the perfect shot. Any time you see the open goal, it’s just taking the shot or going for it. That’s just really it.”
Turner’s production has been vital to the Terps, especially recently.
Freshman forward Mikayla Dayes is tied for the team-high in two assists and three scores. However, Dayes didn’t play in the past two games after picking up an injury against Richmond on Aug. 31. Turner’s recent success helped fill the void left by the freshman.
Turner acknowledged how her goals were helpful in replicating Dayes’ skillset, but she said defending with the same intensity as Dayes is also important.
“She applies a lot of pressure defensively,” Turner said. “So we have to step up in that regard and bring more energy.”
Defender Julia New, like Leone, credited Turner’s work ethic, which has helped the Terps apply pressure high up the pitch as Dayes did so well.
New also praised Turner’s creativity and distribution of the ball. Though she has not registered an assist this year, she recorded two in 2016 and has created several opportunities for the Terps through their first seven games, often whipping in crosses from her wide positions.
Still, New said Turner’s impact rarely garners the credit it deserves.
“I’ve always looked to her as someone we should be finding all the time for through balls and goals,” New said. “She’s just being active in the play. Sometimes she’s kind of underrated like that.”