Maryland women’s soccer’s 2012 schedule was released Friday, revealing that the team will not be playing any non-conference opponents who were ranked at the end of 2011. They will, however, have their same grueling ACC slate, as they play their first season under new head coach Jonathan Morgan.
The Terps’ first exhibition game will be at home against Old Dominion on Aug. 10. After another exhibition game against St. John’s, the regular season will get underway on Aug. 17 when Maryland travels to Navy. The Midshipmen are ranked 90th in the RPI, while the Terps rank 16th. Following the Navy game, Jonathan Morgan’s crew will play three more games on the road before coming back to the friendly confines of Ludwig Field. The toughest of those three will be a game at Ohio State, a team that made the Sweet 16 last year before losing by one goal to eventual national runner up Duke.
ACC play starts for the Terps on Sept. 13 when they host North Carolina, the symbol of all that is great in women’s college soccer. Because of their 20 national championships, the Tar Heels will always have a target on their back. However, UNC is coming off a year where they only made the Sweet 16 and finished ranked behind Maryland in the NSCAA coaches poll.
After the Heels the Terps have a date with Clemson, who is easily the weakest team in the ACC with an RPI ranking of 143rd. The Tigers failed to win a single game in conference last year.
Then comes a stretch where Maryland plays four teams that finished 2011 ranked in a row. First they play at Duke and then at Wake Forest, both teams who participated in the College Cup last year. The Terps then come home to host the currently sixth ranked Virginia Cavaliers, before going down to Blacksburg to take on #22 Virginia Tech.
Maryland finishes the regular season by hosting Florida State. The match up against the Seminoles will be the Terps’ third against a Final Four team from a year ago.
For a program that loses a head coach in Brian Pensky who worked hard to put Maryland women’s soccer on the map, there is still a lot of uncharted territory. Pensky made the Terps a nice story on campus over the past three years, but he failed to ever take the team past the Sweet Sixteen. He then shocked his players by taking a job at Tennessee this offseason. It is now up to Morgan to finish what Pensky started and lead Maryland to their first ever College Cup.