By Nathaniel Grube
The women’s soccer team is off to a fast start this season with seven wins in their first nine games, even if their offense has been inconsistent at times.
The Retrievers have played top notch defense for the entire season, never allowing more than two goals in a single game. On the other side of the ball though, their offense has been slow to develop in some key games, like against Towson University.
In both losses this season, UMBC has been shut out, and they have had three games where they have scored two or fewer points. Over the last five matches the offense has been doing well in some games and struggling in others. In those games, the Retrievers have won three and lost two. In their wins they are outscoring opponents 13-0, while in their losses they have been outscored 3-0.
UMBC has held their opponents to just four total shots on goal in their last 2 wins – two in each game. Against American University, the Retrievers outshot their opponent by six shots in the first half, clearly controlling the pace of the game. However, against the Tigers, UMBC was outshot by ten and was not able to capitalize on a ten save game by junior goalkeeper Jen Nance.
The offense has been lead by seniors Lilly Rydon and Jessy Brown, who have combined for nine of the 20 goals this season. They are followed closely by junior Nikki Boretti with three and junior Alexa Quaranta who has one goal in her two games.
Coach Leslie Wray is excited that their upperclassmen have been able to step into leadership roles this season.
“We have five seniors, and many veterans who played last year. We have to trust in them, so far they have been able to bring the intensity and leadership on the field that we need at this point,” Wray said.
The Retrievers offense is missing Quaranta, who has struggled with an injury this season. She has played in only the first two games after starting all 21 games last season. In 2013 she was named to the First Team All-Conference, as well as being voted America East Women’s Soccer Fans’ Choice Player of the Year. Quaranta led the Retrievers in goals last season with eight, which was good for eighth in the conference.
Brown and Rydon have stepped up in the absence of Quaranta, and are a huge part of why the Retrievers are seven and two with thirteen goals in their last five games. Still, it is hard to replace one of the best offensive players on the team, and if Quaranta can get healthy, it should bring more consistency to a talented offense heading into conference play.
After one more non-conference game, the Retrievers open up their conference season on the road against the tough University of Vermont team. The trial run for their offense is coming to a close and the Retrievers hope these last few games of offensive explosions are a sign of things to come.
Wray is not worried that her team’s offense will stay consistent as she is looking to take things as they come.
“We are striving to take it one game at a time. So far this season we have been able to do that. Everything changes, throughout the season there are so many changes, lineups change and people change,” Wray said.