Maryland Women’s Soccer Preview vs. Saint Joseph

Maryland women’s soccer will look to get back on the right foot Sunday afternoon when they take on the Saint Joseph’s Hawks.

The Terps (1-1-4) suffered their first loss Thursday night at the hands of No. 24 Wake Forest.

It was a defensive stalemate for most of the competition, but the Demon Deacons finally broke through on a 60th-minute count from graduate midfielder Giovanna Demarco.

Maryland’s offense was nonexistent on the night, as they recorded only one shot on goal, by far the lowest single-game tally of the season.

The Demon Deacons have one of the best defenses in the nation, so while the lack of offense was unsurprising, it was still disappointing.

Head coach Meg Ryan Nemzer and company will have to shake off the loss as they return to Ludwig Field for their fourth straight home game.

Plus, it’s senior day for the Terps, and 15 players will be honored ahead of this weekend’s contest.

These seniors will be looking to celebrate with a win against a Hawks team that has lost five of its first seven games.

The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will be available to stream on Big Ten Plus.

Falcons of Saint Joseph (1-5-1)

2021 review: 6-12-2 (5-5 A-10)

Saint Joseph is coming off a season in which a huge late-season surge nearly saw them pull out of a miraculously upset conference. The slipper didn’t fit in the end for this seasoned group, however, as the bottom seed’s hopes were dashed in the Atlantic 10 semifinals against eventual conference finalist UMass.

The Hawks are bringing back 18 players from last season’s team, including nine starters.

Unfortunately, that magic didn’t continue this season for Saint Joseph’s. They started the season with four straight losses, being beaten 14-2.

Despite the rocky start, the Hawks have found their game lately. After a 3-0 win over Fairleigh Dickinson, the Hawks drew 2-2 with Drexel before losing 1-0 to an excellent side from Hofstra.

The Hawks have had a common theme in recent years of struggling early in the season but picking it up just before conference play, becoming an average group.

Led by 22nd-year head coach Jess Mannella, the veteran Hawks will look to capitalize on their late best game when they come to College Park.

Players to know

Jiselle Daniels, second striker, No. 21 – After not having many chances last season, Daniels came into the Hawks offense and was the undisputed leader. From all seven games, she leads the team in goal contributions, with one goal and three assists during the season. She has three points in the team’s last three games.

Natalie Nevins, Junior Midfielder, No. 7 — A three-year-old starter, Nevins anchors the Hawks midfield, providing immense experience while also being able to produce on the field. Leading all outfield players by minutes this season, she scored twice.

Erica Behr, Certified Defenseman, #8 — The fifth-year player was named one of the team’s captains last season and helped the Hawks earn the most shutouts in the conference. While the defense has been shaky to say the least at the start of the season, the backline is made up of four comebacks, and the game has been better lately. Behr leads this group who will seek to find their best path.

Strength

Live. The Hawks have one of the most experienced teams in the Atlantic 10, with all but two of their players from their starting 11 being returners. Their non-conference record so far can be misleading as they started last season almost identically before playing near .500 in the second half of the season. They’ve fought through adversity before and will look to do it again with a group that’s been there and done it.

Weakness

First defensive struggles. Simply put, the Hawks were unable to keep the ball out of their net. Allowing two or more goals in five of their first seven games, it’s been a huge struggle for them so far. Saint Joseph’s allowed more than seven shots on goal per game. For comparison, this number is slightly higher than four for Terps. Even with the Hawks playing with a better structure lately, they still gave up too many comfort chances.

Three things to watch out for

1. The Terps will have plenty of time on the ball. Similar to their win over George Mason, the Terps will likely see most of the possession on Sunday. The question is: will they be able to capitalize? The Hawks have given their opponents a lot of chances this season, so when the Terps have that open space, they’ll have to take a chance and run with them.

2. Last year’s game ended in a 2OT draw. Maryland did everything right but scored last season, recording 19 shots, 12 of them on goal. A similar performance would be worrisome for Maryland, with some of their first games this season playing out like last season’s game in Philadelphia. Nemzer knows his team will be on the ball for the majority of the 90 minutes, but the Terps need to capitalize when given that time on the ball.

“You need a good chance to put the ball in the back of the net,” Nemzer said after Thursday’s 1-0 loss to Wake Forest.

Sunday, they will have to seize the multitude of opportunities which will present themselves to them.

3. Can Maryland bounce back? Maryland not only suffered their first loss of the season, but also their first exclusion. Provided it comes against a high-quality opponent, a loss is a loss, and the team’s response on Sunday will speak volumes for the group. Can the Terps make senior day a memorable one before they start conference play? Only time will tell.

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