While the beginning of the season saw Maryland women’s soccer draw four times in five outings, the Terps closed out non-conference play on a three game win streak, improving their record to 3-1-4.

It’s the program’s longest winning streak since 2021 and may indicate that Maryland, a team with a litany of new faces, is coalescing at the perfect time.

Coach Meghan Ryan Nemzer’s team will try to transition its success in a powerhouse Big Ten conference. The Terps face their toughest opponent yet on Friday in No.6 Penn State.

Maryland had just four wins across 17 games in 2022. It took that team 16 games to get its third win.

“What I’ve been most impressed with from last year to this year is that mentality of being hungry, of getting the result,” Nemzer said. “It might not be pretty all of the time, but how do you find those results?… You can’t just train 11 people, you gotta have depth for Big Ten conference play.”

[Super-sub Ava Morales has made a case to start for Maryland women’s soccer]

Maryland struggled to score at the start of the 2023 campaign. It took the team three games and a total of 189 minutes to score its first goal. Opportunities to score were often lost because of miscommunications between many new faces.

Midfielder and captain Catherine DeRosa said the team was able to work out some “growing pains” during their imperfect start to nonconference play.

“We got a lot of experience,” DeRosa said. “We’re ready to make a statement in the Big Ten.”

Maryland’s recent performance led to a win despite an inefficient showing. The Terps defeated Binghamton Sunday 1-0 off a late Ava Morales penalty kick. The Terps had 12 shots yet struggled to maintain possession in the midfield, leading to turnovers the Bearcats attempted to capitalize on.

DeRosa emphasized that her team’s performance wasn’t pretty, but it got the job done.

“Going on the road, it’s always tough to get a win,” DeRosa said. “We knew that we needed to win and to play gritty.”

The Terps have scored four goals in their last three matches, with wins over Towson, George Mason and Binghamton. They’ve held each opponent scoreless..

[Maryland women’s soccer caps off nonconference slate with 1-0 win against Binghamton]

Maryland’s first conference opponents include Penn State, Purdue and Ohio State. The Terps suffered a 2-0 loss to the Nittany Lions last year before Penn State’s high-powered program took the Big Ten Tournament title and ended its season in the Sweet Sixteen.

Penn State has beaten Maryland in each matchup since 2004.

With that vast inequity in pedigree, the Terps could take pride in strong performances that still end in losses. But Nemzer’s main goal for Big Ten play is simple: win games.

The Terps are concentrating on creating opportunities up the pitch and connecting passes to find scores. That’ll be especially key against some of the top teams in the nation — ones Maryland will need to beat to achieve the program success Nemzer desires.

“I think it’s the best conference in the country,” Nemzer said. “You cannot take your foot off the pedal for any second because as soon as you do, teams are good enough to punish you. There’s nothing like Big Ten play.”