Maryland women’s soccer leading scorer Chelsea Jackson will miss the remainder of the season with an injury, coach Ray Leone said.
Jackson joins fellow forward and co-leading scorer Mikayla Dayes on the Terps’ growing injury list. With two of the team’s best finishers out, the Terps have continued to move parts around entering this weekend’s matchups at Nebraska and Iowa.
“This goes back to the beginning of the year with kids playing all these different positions, and thankfully we did that because now they’re all comfortable,” Leone said. “‘Whatever you need, coach,’ is what they say.”
Jackson exited Maryland’s contest at Rutgers on Sept. 17 with an apparent leg injury and has not returned to the field. She was last season’s leading scorer with nine goals.
She chipped in three goals and an assist this season, tying the team-high.
Forward Jarena Harmon said she’s never seen injuries hit a team in this fashion during her college career. Dayes was hurt against Richmond on Aug. 31, and Jackson suffered a similar fate a couple of weeks later.
Harmon called it a “domino effect,” but she said the Terps (7-3-2) will continue to find ways to adjust with the growing absences.
“This is obviously really close together, and it’s unfortunate,” forward Mary Johnston said. “It’s a pretty big deal that it’s happened within, like, two weeks of each other. It was really hard on our team.”
Johnston has been one of many freshmen thrown into action early in the season, and even more so with the open spots at forward. She has fired two shots and provided one assist in 297 minutes and could see more time down the stretch.
She is among seven freshmen to play in at least five games, while eight have started at one point. Harmon said the underclassmen’s increased opportunities have motivated them.
“We’ve just banded together,” Johnston said. “This sucks, but together, we can turn this into a positive and just work together to be the same team that we were before, if not better.”
The Terps are learning how to not only fill the void left by Jackson and Dayes, but preserve their health. They want to be more strategic when controlling the ball and attacking so they can also defend as a unit, rather than chase the ball, Harmon said. Plus, Leone is implementing less strenuous training sessions to ensure players remain healthy.
“As forwards, we’re being more careful now that we don’t have as many subs,” Harmon said. “We just practice being able to make a run and still preserve your energy, knowing that we don’t have as many people to swap out.”
Leone is adjusting on the fly, picking his lineups — particularly who starts up top — on a game-by-game basis based on players’ fitness and health.
Regardless of who is thrown in, Leone said he believes the Terps will still be competitive in the Big Ten.
“We’ve just got to find a way,” Leone said. “We have players that believe in themselves, and I think that they can do it. It’s different than before where we were constantly changing the way we were playing last year every game. We might be moving people around, but we’re not changing the way we’re playing.”