Following a run of just one win in five games, Maryland was looking to re-ignite their season on the road today vs Wisconsin. Their opening two Big Ten games had seen the Terps fail to find the net in either contest, notching 0-0 draws with Michigan and Michigan State. They didn't want to make it three games without a win in conference play, and they wanted to re-ignite their offense. The Terps got their win, and the offense broke through, beating the Badgers 4-1.
If recent Maryland games were often a chore to watch, with a lack of spark from the attacking players, and often moving along slowly, this game was the complete opposite right from the start.
Just 75 seconds into the game, after forcing a turnover from Wisconsin in midfield, Maryland broke forward on a two man counter attack with Eryk Williamson and Sebastian Elney. Williamson slipped Elney in behind the Wisconsin defense and Elney tucked a low shot into the far corner to make it 1-0 Maryland.
And not even five munutes later, Maryland would find the back of the net again. After a bit of pinball outside the box, Eryk Williamson left a nice little ball off right into the path of Mael Corboz, who teed up an absolute rocket right into the top corner of the net from 18 yards out to make it 2-0 Maryland.
In my preview, I mentioned how Maryland's problems with clearing the ball and playing out of the back could cause them problems. In the 37th minute, it did. Cody Niedermeier's pass was poor and went right to a Badger player in the middle of the field. Mark Segbers picked it up and slid in Tom Barlow all alone in front of goal, and he knocked it over the on-charging Niedermeier to make it a 2-1 game.
After the incredibly open start to the game, the pace slowed over the next 10 minutes or so. Maryland was in control of possession for the most part, but the chances dried up and the Terps ball movement was just a bit more slow and passive.
Suli Dainkeh had a long range effort go high half way through the first half. A few minutes later the Badgers had a good look at a free kick but it also sailed well high and over the bar.
Maryland had a more long range free kick quickly after, and they did take advantage of it. Mael Corboz floated a delivery in, and Alex Crognale rose high to flick a header on and past Adrian Remeniuk and put the Terps up 3-1.
Crognale was at it again in a different fashion a few minutes later, hitting a looping shot from distance that Remeniuk just tipped over his bar. Crognale wasn't the only defender joining the attack, as Suli Dainkeh was repeatedly getting space down the wing, and playing a big part of the Terps play going forward. Fullbacks getting forward has been a big part of any success Maryland has had going forward this year, and it was prevalent again today.
The Terps were well on top following Crognale's goal, looking lively, playing nice passes, and the interchange between the forwards and midfielders was very good to see. It was a sharp contrast to what we had seen in recent games from this team.
Wisconsin managed to work up a head of steam late in the half, getting into a bit of rhythm with their passing, but they didn't create any substantial opportunities.
At half-time, Maryland led 3-1.
Maryland picked up right where they left off in the first half, getting right at the Wisconsin defense and having a couple looks on goal. They found the net just five minutes into that half, with Endoh lifting a cross into the area for Sebastian Elney who had a looping header sail into the far corner and put Maryland up 4-1.
The Terps continued to boss the game in midfield and look threatening. Defenders continued to get up from the back and provide overlapping runs, and they were constantly forcing Wisconsin defenders onto the back foot.
Wisconsin had a nice interchange of play halfway through the second half, playing a couple quick passes and creating a chance for a cross from the left wing, but the cross sailed high and out of play.
The 5th nearly came for Maryland after a comedy of errors from Wisconsin. After picking the ball off in midfield, Mael Corboz led a counterattack for the Terps, and tried to slide in Sebastian Elney. The pass didn't get there, but the Wisconsin player whiffed on the ball, and Elney rounded the goalkeeper but ran out of room and could only knock up a cross that missed everyone.
Wisconsin nearly found their second with a dozen minutes remaining. A ball from the midfield was played over the top and a man raced free, but Crognale and Magalhaes shepherded him off the ball.
A lot of different guys got some game time late in the match as Sasho Cirovski took out some of his starters in a game that was clearly no longer competitive.
The match limped towards the finish line over the final few minutes, with Maryland running out the victors.
Final: Maryland 4-1 Wisconsin
Wisconsin might be the worst team in the Big Ten. They were last year. But Maryland needed a win anyway they could get it, and they looked likely and sharp from the outset. They got two early goals and continued to exert their dominance, and got a dominant W. That's good to see. Now it's time to build on this and carry it forward over the next month.
Maryland is now 1-0-2 (W-L-D) in Big Ten play. They return home on Friday for their first home game in nearly three weeks. They'll be taking on Northwestern.