Based on Mount St. Mary's 1-7 nonconference record, it might seem the Mountaineers aren't quite ready to step into Northeast Conference play this weekend. But that's not how the Mountaineers see it.
After all, the past two years they've started 1-7 and made it to the NEC championship game. When they take on Wagner in the conference opener Friday at 4 p.m. in Emmitsburg, the Mountaineers will have gained plenty of insight from playing teams such as Johns Hopkins, Virginia Tech and UMBC.
"We have one of, if not the toughest, nonconference schedule in our conference, and I think it really prepares us and gives us confidence," Mountaineers coach B.J. Johnson said. "Each team we play against, we talk about what we like and what they have that we need to improve on. We try to take something from each game so that by the time conference play comes, we've seen almost every scenario. That gives us a lot of confidence moving into conference play."
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Last season, the Mountaineers followed their 1-7 start by going 7-2 in the conference and winning the tournament semifinal, 7-4, over Sacred Heart before falling, 11-3, to Monmouth in the title game.
While some teams may lose confidence winning just one of the first eight games, Johnson said her players have learned to look for the smaller victories within each game that bring improvement.
"I think the kids truly understand why we do it. You take your licks, but it will help you later, so they stay confident, they stay positive," she said. "Being in the Baltimore area to play at Homewood and to get to play some of these good teams, it builds our confidence in a different way. Some people need wins to be confident. We like to play strong opponents to be confident."
Terps outscoring everybody
With its 18-5 win at William & Mary on Wednesday, No. 1 Maryland has the highest-scoring offense in Division I, averaging 16.40 goals per game.
The Terps (10-0) have four players with 23 or more goals and 29 or more points. Alex Aust, who now stands sixth on Maryland's career assist list with 107, leads the way with 33 goals and 30 assists. After the Bullis graduate, the next three high-scoring Terps are former All-Metro Players of the Year.
Katie Schwarzmann, a Century graduate and last season's Tewaaraton Award winner, has 26 goals and 13 assists while South River's Brooke Griffin has 23 goals and 10 assists and McDonogh's Taylor Cummings has 23 goals and six assists.
Not bad to be No. 2
You have to go about as far from Maryland as possible to find the team ranked second in Division I scoring offense — San Diego State.
In their second season as a varsity program, the Aztecs (5-2) haven't played nearly the caliber of schedule the Terps have, but they have rolled up 16.29 points per game. Their offense is also powered largely by Maryland natives.
Michaela Jarvis, from St. Mary's in Annapolis, leads a balanced Aztecs offense with 11 goals and 14 assists; she's followed by McDonogh graduate Bailey Ewing with 19 goals and five assists, and Easton graduate Meris Walsh with 13 goals.
Sea Gulls flying high
Defending national champion Trinity, which beat Salisbury in the 2012 title game, maintained the No. 1 ranking, but the Sea Gulls were only four points behind. Trinity, however, received 13 of 20 first-place votes. In last year's Division III final four, Trinity also defeated Cortland.
The Sea Gulls (6-0) played four straight road games before returning home Sunday to defeat Brockport State, 19-6, with four goals each from Kara Koolage (St. Mary's) and Lauren Feusahrens (St. Mary's Ryken) and 10 saves from last season's IWLCA Division III Goalie of the Year, Ashton Wheatley.
They travel to Franklin & Marshall on Sunday before returning home for four straight, including meetings with Capital Athletic Conference foes Mary Washington, Marymount and St. Mary's. The Sea Gulls have won 10 straight CAC championships.