COLLEGE PARK, Md. – When the University of Maryland women’s soccer team takes the field for the first time in 2014 in its exhibition opener at Hofstra there will be a noticeable absence in graduated forward Hayley Brock. But, junior midfields Aubrey Baker and Riley Barger expect the Terps’ midfield unit to rise to the occasion to help provide the needed offensive punch.
“I think this year is a big year for us,” said Barger. “Losing our leading scorer from last year, we all have to step up. We’re going to need goals from a lot of different people to make up for that.”
In 2013, Brock scored more than a third of Mayland’s goals and assisted on another five. In total, she had a hand in 17 of the Terrapins’ 35 goals (48.6 percent).
Maryland’s trio of starting midfielders from 2013 is back in tact in Baker, Barger and sophomore Lauren Berman. That threesome combined for six goals and seven assists and they know they will be expected to increase that production in 2014.
“Being upperclassmen, generally, you take on more responsibility; seeing what the team does and how you can help the team in a lot of ways,” said Baker. “Scoring and creating opportunities, especially with us having a lot of experience, can’t help but push us in a positive direction.”
The experience factor is a big one with the Terrapins’ midfield. Baker and Barger are each in their third season and have seen a lot of playing time against some of the nation’s toughest competition. Baker has seen action in 41 matches as a Terp with 21 starts, while Barger has started 33 of the 40 matches in which she has played.
Berman might be a year behind her line-mates, but she saw action in all 20 matches for the Terps last season with 17 starts. She is Maryland’s leading returning scorer with 11 points on three goals and five assists.
“With being an upperclassman there comes responsibility and taking the underclassmen under our wings and making their transition from the preseason to the regular season and live games, making that transition a little bit easier,” said Barger.
Barger is excited to see what the group and the 2014 Terps, as a whole, can do in the school’s first season as a member of the Big Ten, but knows it all starts in Hempstead, N.Y., on Thursday night vs. the Pride.
“There has been a lot of buildup and excitement leading up to this season, so getting the chance to get out there the first time and see where we are compared to a different team in a new environment; it’s really exciting.”