After tearing through its first seven matches without a loss, the Maryland women's soccer team has dropped two of its past three contests.
At then-No. 13 Rutgers and defending Big Ten champions Northwestern, the Terps fell, 2-0, both times, with a win at Illinois sandwiched between the defeats.
Despite their recent stumble, the Terps have used their early-season form and performances last spring to build confidence as they prepare to face No. 24 Wisconsin at Ludwig Field on Friday.
The Terps went unbeaten through the spring, including a victory over Georgetown, which is currently ranked No. 17 in the country. After a 3-15-1 finish in 2016, it was a landmark stretch of play for the Terps (7-2-1) that set the tone for the regular season. And coach Ray Leone hopes that experience will carry over.
"We have had a lot of different situations come our way this fall that have made us adjust on the fly, but we at least have had experiences together that have helped us this season," he said.
The spring was a valuable period for Maryland, especially because the team was virtually unchanged from the previous campaign. The only two additions were goalkeeper Andi Wenck, a transfer from Kansas State, and freshman midfielder Hope Lewandoski, who arrived a semester early. The team showed improvement despite the lack of roster overhaul.
"We had just two people come into our team in the spring and show it wasn't much of a difference," Leone said. "It was just a change of mindset and then we kind of built from there."
Still, Leone said Lewandoski's early arrival helped her develop and earn respect from teammates.
She has played 865 minutes through 10 games this season, more than any other freshman. Only senior midfielder Hope Gouterman has played more.
"I blended in with the team and was able to find that chemistry with them before we had all the pressures of the season," Lewandoski said. "I was able to come in early and just settle in and get all my jitters out before it mattered."
Lewandoski's added experience has rubbed off on the other freshmen who arrived in the fall.
Several youngsters already played key roles early in the campaign. Following a few injuries to experienced players, the Terps have been required to give their newer faces even more playing time. Leone pointed to starting six newcomers against Illinois as an example of how much they've grown.
"From the spring forward, we have had good experiences together," Leone said. "Now, this new team, with all the young freshmen, has a decent number of games and experience together. It's hopefully starting to come together, even though we've had some rocky run-ins these last couple of games."
Whether the players participated in the spring slate or joined in August, the Terps have showed an ability to play well together. But they must regain that level of play after their recent dip in form.
Lewandoski believes Maryland can bounce back as it returns from a three-game road trip to face the Badgers on Friday.
"In the heat of the moment, in the heat of the season, when it gets all crazy, we just look back at all the good work we put in during the spring," Lewandoski said. "We remember all the good things we did and try to get back to that."