Going into Friday's matchup at Penn State, Maryland men's soccer's 2015 season is starting to look a whole lot like its 2014 campaign.
Last season, Maryland lost to Northwestern 3-2 in double overtime in its 14th game of the season before ending the year on an 8-0 tear. After losing to the Wilcats again this year in overtime on Friday, the Terps started toward their goal of replicating last season's finish with a 2-0 victory over Villanova Monday night.
Against Villanova's Wildcats, Maryland dominated despite missing freshman forwards Sebastian Elney and Eryk Williamson, who were traveling with the U.S. under-20 team. Senior midfielder Tsubasa Endoh took a very active role in the offense and scored his first goal of the season, while fellow senior David Kabelik added another. Even with the win over Villanova, Maryland's loss to Northwestern was enough to drop the team from No. 13 to No. 25 in the latest coaches poll.
Penn State owns the second-best record in the Big Ten at 5-2-3, and is looking to avenge its 4-0 loss at the hands of the Terps last season. The Nittany Lions are averaging exactly one goal per game while only giving up 0.70.
How to Witness:
Online: Streaming at BTN2go.
Twitter: Follow @ryanconnors11 for updates from the game.
Players to watch:
Connor Maloney, forward: The junior leads the team in goals with three and is tied for the team lead in assists with...one.
Brian James, midfielder: The senior is second on the team in goals and assists, and assisted on the game-winning goal in the team's win over Rutgers on Sunday.
Matt Bersano, goalkeeper: Bersano leads the Big Ten in save percentage with 83 and ranks second in the conference in goals against average at 0.67, only trailing the Terps' Cody Niedermeier by 0.06. He also ranks third in the conferences in saves per game with 3.4.
Defense: Penn State boasts one of the better in the country, ranking 20th in the NCAA in goals against average. The team's only allowed seven goals in 10 games. It'll be tough going for the Terps if they don't score early.
Goalkeeping: Bersano has be a quality stopper at the end of the Nittany Lions' defense. You can check out his stats above. He's good.
Goal-scoring: Like Northwestern, Penn State also has trouble putting the ball into the net. The Nittany Lions are tied with Northwestern for the least number of goals scrank dead last in the Big Ten in shots per game at 8.2, while the Wildcats sit a spot above them with 9.
Anything else to do with offense: The Nittany Lions rank last in the Big Ten in goals, assists, points and corners. If Penn State pulls this one out, it could very well be in the same way Northwestern did- by not possessing the ball for almost the entire game and capitalizing on the few chances it gets.