By Daniel Chavkin
In his first season as Maryland’s women’s soccer coach, Ray Leone has had a difficult time finding success.
“There is no elevator to the top, and you need to suffer first,” he said. “Most of the time you have to pay a price and that’s what we’re doing. We’re paying a price for success.”
Leone was hired on Jan. 13 after spending the last nine seasons coaching Harvard. In his first season at Maryland, the team finished with a 3-15-1 record, which includes a nine-game losing streak and six-game scoreless streak to end the year. Leone said the team needs patience and to look at the big picture to really assess the season.
“Right now we’ve been so focused on the results, ” he said. “We do need to take a step back and remind [ourselves] on the process that will get us the results.”
One of Leone’s strongest points is to make sure his team doesn’t just look at the final score when evaluating a game, but each game as whole.
“[As] a player and a coach, all you’re looking at is what you’re not doing [well],” he said. “You start to reflect on it a little bit saying, ‘Hey, we are improving,’”
Although this has been difficult, Leone and the team has been optimistic and looking for the silver linings, which included simply playing together.
“We needed experiences together,” he said. “Now we’ve got a stack load of games against good competition to say, ‘Ok, remember what we did in this game? We are going to do it differently this time.’”
Leone’s positivity spread to the team, making sure they take the positives after each game.
“He’ll find our flaws that we can improve on but he’s always quick to note what we’re doing well so we can keep moving on with it,” redshirt freshman midfielder Darby Moore said.
Leone walked into a team that featured 14 new players in the fall, including six transfers. However, the large group of fresh faces meant Leone didn’t have a whole lot to work with last spring.
“In the spring, since we only had nine or 10 players, there’s only so much you can do to teach them how we want to play,” he said. “Then you start over [in the fall], and then you have two, three weeks to get ready for the season. It’s difficult.”
Spring practice without a full squad meant the team had to practice against mannequins for an entire semester.
“Mannequins don’t tackle,” Leone said.
Goalkeeper Rachel Egyed, a redshirt sophomore whom Leone hailed as one of the vocal leaders, is excited about having a full team in the spring.
“I think it will be nice to finally be playing together for a year with people,” she said. “The spring is going to a great season to keep building and working with what we have and finding our missing links … and putting everything together.”
Yet, through the difficult last 10 months, Leone is excited for this spring when he can completely implement his system
“We actually can address a lot of things in positions and in systems with a real team,” Leone said. “I’m really looking forward to putting a true style and system of play together.”