For the first time in nearly two weeks, the whistle at 90 minutes signaled the end of a Maryland women's soccer's game.
In their previous four outings, the Terps (6-0-1) went to overtime. But against William and Mary on Thursday, midfielder Madison Turner scored three minutes into the game to set up an 87-minute test of Maryland's defensive resolve. Especially late in the game, the Tribe threw numbers forward as the Terps sat deep to preserve the one-goal lead.
Five of the Terps' six wins have been by just one score, but Thursday's victory was a defensive effort coach Ray Leone was particularly proud of.
"They were smarter in where they were placing the ball at the end of the game, and they were really tight defensively," Leone said. "They were battling for everything."
Leone hasn't been shy about changing formations and moving players to different positions. The Terps reshuffled against William and Mary as defender Jlon Flippens rested.
The sophomore, despite not playing Thursday, still has the second-most minutes on the team. She has been an influential member of the Terps' stingy backline, which has helped keep three clean sheets in seven matches after conceding at least one goal in all 19 games last season.
Without Flippens, the defense adjusted, as midfielder Hope Gouterman dropped back to play alongside Julia New. Leone knows teams normally have four core defenders and stick with them, but the Terps' always-changing backline continues to produce.
"I want our team to be versatile," Leone said. "Other than the goalkeeper, it's 10 field players, and [they'll] figure it out. At the end of the game, we had forwards playing almost in the back because of the way they were coming at us. So, you have to be capable of playing anywhere."
New admitted playing without Flippens was different, but she said the Terps pride themselves on striking chemistry. In instances when a player misses out, they're capable of throwing someone else in to defend, which New described as "perfect."
During last season's nonconference schedule, the Terps conceded 19 goals in eight games. Through their seven-game opening stretch in this campaign, they've allowed just four. No opponent has put multiple goals past Maryland in a single contest.
Against William and Mary, the Terps felt the pressure of the slim lead and the growing Tribe attack, but as they've done all year, they held firm and secured the result.
"I've always believed that we could do it," New said. "Our team, we're just full of surprises and our work ethic is like nothing I've ever seen before. I knew we had it in us."