Memories of the Maryland women's soccer team soaring to its best start since 2011 with a seven-match unbeaten run in nonconference play have become distant as the Terps' Big Ten struggles continue.
Maryland is 1-7-2 in conference action. It hasn't won since a 1-0 victory against Illinois on Sept. 22. More than one month later, the Terps have their final chance to best another Big Ten foe when they face Purdue on Wednesday.
With a win or draw, Maryland (7-7-3) has the opportunity to finish at or above .500 for the first time since joining the Big Ten. Despite a five-match scoreless stretch, coach Ray Leone believes the Terps are positioned to finish strong.
"I see a resilience that's growing in them," Leone said. "These last three games, they've really performed against top-level teams and were in it the whole way. I feel like we're getting stronger mentally."
Leone highlighted a weekend trip to the Midwest as a stumbling point. At the time, the Terps were still in contention for a Big Ten tournament spot. But a 3-0 loss to Nebraska on Oct. 5 was followed by a 4-0 drubbing at Iowa three days later.
That trip also began Maryland's scoreless skid, which it hopes to end against the Boilermakers (9-6-2, 4-4-2 Big Ten), who haven't won since Oct. 1.
The Terps scored 12 goals in their opening seven games but have scored four in 10 games since. Their goals per game average has been cut nearly in half, decreasing from 1.71 after nonconference play to 0.94 heading into the Purdue match.
Season-ending injuries to leading scorers Chelsea Jackson and Mikayla Dayes haven't helped matters.
Freshman Malikae Dayes was making an impression on defense before picking up a knock and has only played in four games. Standout center back Jlon Flippens missed the Nebraska and Iowa blowouts with an illness.
Maryland celebrated its seniors Saturday night in their final home game, which they tied, 0-0, against Michigan State. In their final match as Terps, the graduating class wants to ensure the program finishes the right way with a performance reminiscent of its early-season success.
"I want to end on that high note," redshirt senior midfielder Hope Gouterman said. "We have a really good opportunity in front of us."