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Previewing Maryland's first ever Big Ten conference game: Men's soccer at Michigan

More than a year of preparation comes to full fruition Friday at 5:00 pm in Ann Arbor when the Maryland men's soccer team kicks off the first ever official Big Ten Conference game for any Terrapins squad.

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When the Maryland women's soccer team took to the pitch at UCLA on August 22, it marked, in its own way, the official beginning of a new era. It was the first time any Maryland team played a non-exhibition game wearing the B1G logo on their uniforms. Friday afternoon, Terps fans will see the final milestone of Maryland's transition to its new conference home when the men's soccer team tackles Michigan in the first ever game that will place its result in the Big Ten conference standings. How cool is that!

Some fun facts

Courtesy of Wikipedia:

The wolverine, Gulo gulo (Gulo is Latin for "glutton"), also referred to as glutton, carcajou, skunk bear, or quickhatch, is the largest land-dwelling species of the family Mustelidae (weasels). It is a stocky and muscular carnivore, more closely resembling a small bear than other mustelids. The wolverine, a solitary animal, has a reputation for ferocity and strength out of proportion to its size, with the documented ability to kill prey many times larger than itself.

Anatomically, the wolverine is a stocky and muscular animal. With short legs, broad and rounded head, small eyes and short rounded ears, it resembles a bear more than other mustelids.

A light-silvery facial mask is distinct in some individuals, and a pale buff stripe runs laterally from the shoulders along the side and crossing the rump just above a 25-35 cm (9.8-13.8 in) bushy tail.

Like many other mustelids, it has potent anal scent glands used for marking territory and sexual signaling. The pungent odor has given rise to the nicknames "skunk bear" and "nasty cat."

The Crew is free to do with this information what you please.

Wolverines on the pitch

2013

Now that we're done with the physiology of the mascot, it's time to look at what the Terps will face on the soccer pitch. According to the preseason opinion of the B1G coaches, without Maryland's entry  into the conference, Michigan would have been the second best squad. As it is, they were picked third. Michigan returns eight starters from their 2013 squad that finished 3-3 in the B1G and 8-7-3 overall. The Wolverines did not reach the NCAA Tournament.

2014

Like the Terrapins, the Wolverines have gotten off to a bit of a slow start. They currently stand at 1-2 having lost to Florida International 1-0 and beaten SMU 3-0 at home while losing 3-0 on the road at Columbia. (SMU has road losses to Michigan and Michigan State adn a home win over Duke.) However, the game the Terps should take note of is their 1-0 exhibition win in Ann Arbor over Louisville a team that squeezed past Maryland 1-0 albeit on their home field. Thus, the initial impression is that Michigan is a solid defensive team particularly on their home turf. In their road loss, Columbia scored early ringing up two goals in the first 20 minutes of play. So the second impression is that it's best to get to Michigan early.

Michigan averages 12 shots and nearly seven corner kicks per game. The opposition has launched nearly as many shots, 32, but the Wolverine defense has given up just 10 corner kicks in three games and only one goal in their two home games. Of Michigan's 36 shots, they have put just over 30 percent (11-36) on goal.

Players to watch

The first Wolverines player on the Terrapins' fans watch list should be redshirt senior midfielder Tyler Armone. Armone, who wears number 7, was the 2013 B1G Midfielder of the Year. For the season, he scored nine goals with eleven assists. Though he has yet to score this season, he did pick up an assist in the win over SMU.

Michigan's leading scorer in 2014 is redshirt junior Colin McAtee. McAtee, a midfielder who wears number 17, scored twice in the Wolverines' lone win thus far this season. He started 15 games last season and tied for second on the team with four assists. The brace of goals he scored against the Mustangs doubled his career total.

And in goal, the Terps will have to be aware of true freshman Evan Louro. Louro is a TopDrawerSoccer.com Freshman Preseason Best XI. He has stared two of Michigan's three games this season, shutting out SMU and conceding all three goals against Columbia. Louro declined an invitation to the U.S. Men's National Team U-20 training camp to remain at Michigan.

Not much history

Maryland and Michigan have met only once before and the game does not conjure up happy memories for Terrapins fans. The previous meeting came on December 4, 2010 when the Wolverines came to College Park and left with a 3-2 win and a trip to the 2010 College Cup. Although it doesn't carry the same import of the previous meeting, Maryland would like nothing better than to record Maryland first Big Ten Conference win of any kind.