WHO: UMBC Retrievers (12-5-4) @ Maryland Terrapins (13-5-3)
WHAT: NCAA Men's Soccer Tournament second round game
WHERE: Ludwig Field, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland
WHEN: Sunday, November 23, 2014 at 5:00 pm Eastern
WATCH: In person
A look back
In terms of an NCAA soccer season, an eon has passed since Maryland and UMBC met on the fifth of September. The game was the third of the season for the Terrapins and the fourth for the Retrievers and the squads played to a 0-0 tie.
The Terps out shot the Retrievers 13-6 in the game forcing then UMBC goalkeeper Phil Breno to make six saves. In general, Maryland was the team that exerted pressure and UMBC the team that sought to counter. The Terrapins' defense seemed well prepared for that approach seeing to it that none of the Retrievers' six shots were on goal.
In a bit of retrospective irony, one of Maryland's best chances to score came early in the game when Mael Corboz, with a chance similar to his game winning effort against Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament final, just missed the top corner of the goal on a free kick from just outside the box.
Maryland also had a handful of chances off set pieces and David Kabelik and Emmanuel Korvah each had opportunities in the run of play that they failed to convert. The most dangerous offensive threats from UMBC came from Stephen Ho.
A tale of two seasons
In perhaps a curious twist of fate, the seasons that followed that September meeting traced a similar arc for both units. In the six games that ensued, Maryland had a record of 2-3-1 while UMBC struggled even more with a 1-4-1 showing. Since then, the Terps are 10-1-1 while the Retrievers have posted a 9-1-2 mark. Though the records are similar, the teams achieved them in somewhat different ways.
The key for UMBC seems to have been making a change at goalkeeper. Twelve games ago, Retrievers' coach Phil Caringi replaced Breno with Billy Heavner. Heavner has conceded only eight goals while picking up 39 saves. He has played to a .830 save percentage and maintained a 0.64 goals against average while notching six shutouts over the 12 game span.
We've documented the keys to Maryland's success in other stories on this site. In a nutshell, however, it came down to the Terps finding ways to score. Through the first nine games of the season, Maryland scored eight goals. In the 12 games since, they have found the net 27 times.
Matching it up - the offenses
For the last three seasons, UMBC has been a dominant force in the America East Conference. The Retrievers have won back to back regular season titles and three consecutive tournament championships. For the season, the Retrievers and the Terps have both scored 35 goals. Like the Terrapins, UMBC is led by a transfer, senior Kay Banjo (#10).
Banjo, who is from Upper Marlboro and transferred from Towson, leads the Retrievers with eight goals and five assists. His play earned him recognition as the 2014 America East Striker of the Year. His play includes this rather special goal in the America East semifinal against Vermont:
Another Maryland product (and transfer from NC State), America East Midfielder of the Year Mamadou Kansaye (#10), is the principal secondary scoring threat. The senior leads the Retrievers in assists with six and his 14 points are second on the squad. Fans familiar with Maryland's Tsubasa Endoh will see similarities between the Terps' midfielder and the Retrievers' Stephen Ho. Neither has finished particularly well but both excel in their work rate and at creating dangerous chances for their teammates.
For Maryland, the situation is essentially unchanged. Junior transfer Mael Corboz leads the Terps with ten goals and 23 points. Corboz's tenth goal came in memorable fashion in the B1G Tournament final and is one Terrapins' fans can watch repeatedly:
George Campbell and David Kabelik each have four goals for Maryland while Mikias Eticha and Dan Metzger have three apiece. The Terps got a score from a surprising source in the Big Ten Tournament final when freshman Cristoffer Wallander-Ianev, starting in place of an injured Jereme Raley, knocked home Maryland's first goal.
And the defenses
It may not be particularly instructive to compare the season stats for Maryland and UMBC since, as noted above, the Retrievers have been a different team since moving Heavner into the starting lineup twelve games ago. In those 12 games, only Navy, who scored twice, has gotten the ball past Heavner for more than one goal in a game. The Retrievers defense also features Oumar Ballo (#18). The Archbishop Curley graduate won the 2014 America East Defender of the Year.
For comparison sake, Maryland has given up 10 goals over their final 12 games. Three of those came in the loss at Northwestern and both Hartwick and Rutgers found the net twice against the Terps.
How they reached the NCAA Tournament
Both Maryland and UMBC won their conference regular season championships and both went on to secure automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament by winning their conference tournaments as well. However, by virtue of their strength of schedule, the Terps earned the number four seed and a bye into the second round. The Retrievers had to travel to Wake Forest where they played the ACC squad to a 0-0 tie before advancing 3-2 on penalty kicks.
The 2014 appearance is the fourth time in the last five seasons that UMBC has reached the NCAA Tournament. Of the six games they have played over that span, five, including Wednesday night's contest with Wake Forest, have been decided on penalty kicks. The Retrievers are 2-3 in those five games and have never advanced past the second round.
As for the Terrapins, one might consider them one of the "blue bloods" of NCAA soccer. In the last 15 years, Maryland has reached the College Cup seven times and every four year player since 1998 has been a part of at least one College Cup team. The Terps are making their 14th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and 34th in the program's history. With a win on Sunday, Maryland will advance to the third round for a 13th straight year.