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B1G game two - women's soccer hosts Michigan

The Michigan Wolverines come to College Park in an important early season Big Ten showdown for the two schools. The Wolverines are looking for their first road win while the Terps look to remain perfect at home.

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WHO: Michigan Wolverines @ Maryland Terrapins

WHAT: Women's soccer B1G Conference game

WHERE: Ludwig Field, University of Maryland College Park

WHEN: Friday, September 19, 2014 at 4:00 pm

The Michigan State Wolverines women's soccer team comes to College Park to face the Maryland Terrapins in a surprisingly important early season contest. The game is important for the Wolverines who are coming off a 2-1 upset of then ninth ranked Wisconsin but who are looking for their first road win of the 2014 season. It's important for the Terrapins because it is the middle game of three straight home contests that open Maryland's inaugural Big Ten season - a stretch that could prove crucial to the Terps' hopes of competing for a B1G Conference title. Those of you who might be interested in leaning a bit of wolverine biology can read about it in the men's soccer preview.

Wolverines on the pitch

2013

The 2013 edition of the Michigan women's soccer team finished 18-4-1 and their 9-1-1 record in conference play garnered them a tie for second in the Big Ten . They then advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time where they lost a 2-1 decision at Virginia. The second place finish in conference play was the highest in program history and the 18 wins equaled the program's high.

So why, you might wonder, did the Big Ten coaches drop them to fifth in the preseason poll? The answer to that question is that the Wolverines graduated seven seniors who started a combined 140 games as well as losing an eighth player, Christina Murillo, who started 20 of the 23 games but who is currently training with the Mexican National Team. Among the seniors who graduated were co-captains Nkem Ezurike and Meghan Toohey who together accounted for 20 of Michigan's 45 goals on the season.

2014

Michigan has opened the season by winning six of their first eight games. They are unbeaten in conference play with a 2-1 overtime win against Minnesota to go along with their upset of Wisconsin. As with Maryland, their only two losses have come away from Ann Arbor when they made a west coast swing. While there, they dropped one sided decisions to San Diego and San Diego State. Eight of the ten goals the Wolverines have conceded came in these two games. Since those two losses they have won four straight - all at home - adding wins over Toledo and Central Michigan to their two conference wins. The Wolverines landed just outside the top 25 in the most recent coaches' poll and were the leading vote getter in the "others receiving votes" category.

The Terps will face a Michigan team that is dangerous on set plays and is always looking to make the extra pass. The Woverines have scored six goals on corner kicks where they hold a 47-29 edge over their opponents. They also hold a 113-79 overall shot advantage. Perhaps the most impressive statistic, however, is the degree to which they share the ball having recorded 17 assists on their 15 goals for the season.

Players to watch

Ani Sarkisian, #21, redshirt freshman, midfielder/forward. Sarkisian is one of two Wolverines with four goals on the season. She's second on the team with four assists and her twelve points lead Michigan in scoring. She scored both goals in the upset over Wisconsin and was named the B1G Offensive Player of the Week for her efforts against Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Nicky Waldek, #25, sophomore, forward. Waldek is the other Wolverine to have found the net four times in the first eight games. She has added two assists for ten total points good for second on the team. She has already topped her output for her entire freshman season when she scored three goals and had two assists.

Corinne Harris, #31, junior, midfielder / forward. Though Harris has scored only once thus far this season, she has proven herself a more than capable facilitator with six assists. Though Harris appeared in all 23 games last season, she started only six. In a way comparable to Waldek, Harris has already equaled her entire 2013 season output.

Megan Hinz, #00, freshman, goalkeeper. We're including Hinz not simply because the freshman is a graduate of Good Council but because, after splitting time with Taylor Bucklin early in the season, she has secured the starting spot and has played all the available minutes in the last four games. The freshman has already won a Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week Award and sports an impressive .067 goals against average and a .826 save percentage.

History

There is none. The two programs have never met on the pitch. So, as Mr. Miyagi said to Daniel as they entered the arena for the climactic contest in The Karate Kid, "Don't know. First time you. First time me." What remains to be seen is whether Michigan will "sweep the leg" or if Maryland has mastered the "crane technique."