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Maryland men's soccer midseason check-in

After a difficult early-season schedule, the Terps have only one game left against a ranked opponent.

Ryan Connors/Testudo Times

After nine games, Maryland men's soccer is sitting at 4-2-3, with eight games left in the regular season before the Big Ten Tournament starts.

Here's where Maryland currently stands in some of the major soccer polls:

Ranking: Where Maryland is:
NSCAA Coaches Poll 13
TopDrawerSoccer 21
College Soccer News 14
TopDrawerSoccer Composite 9

As you can see, TopDrawerSoccer's Composite rankings, which take the average of five polls, is the one that looks upon the Terps most favorably.  However, NCAA's RPI scowls upon Maryland, ranking it far lower than any other ratings system.

The Terps are in a similar spot to the one they were in at this point last season, when they held a 3-4-2 record after their loss to No. 7 Georgetown. Questions loomed about Maryland's consistency as it entered Big Ten play, but Maryland answered those questions by going on a a tear in the second half of the season, losing its next game to Northwestern before winning each of the team's final eight games and finishing 13-6-3.

Maryland is in a better position than it was last year, so even if the team can't pull off an incredible end-of-the-season run like it did in 2014, it should be in a good place entering the playoffs.

Impact players:

Sebastian Elney, forward: The freshman phenom leads the team with six goals, while the next-best total on the team is two. He's been an explosive scorer and is especially tough to run with when he makes a break toward the opposing team's goal. The Florida native made quite an impression on the Maryland faithful in his first career home game against UCLA, heading in the winning golden goal in overtime to give the Terps the victory over the No. 1 team in the country. Since then, he's been the team's top scoring threat, and he registered a goal in the second minute of Maryland's win over Wisconsin Sunday.

Mael Corboz, midfielder: Last season, Corboz led the team in goals and was third in assists, but thanks to the emergence of Elney and Eryk Williamson, he hasn't had to bear the weight of the offense this year. Before scoring on a rocket from outside the box against Wisconsin, the senior's only goal this season had come on a penalty kick in the home opener against UCLA. After starting out the year in more of a defensive midfielder position, Corboz has played more of an attacking midfield position of late, so he should see more goals in the second half of the season than he did in the first, but he still probably won't be the main scoring threat.

Cody Niedermeier, goalkeeper: When sophomore Zack Steffen signed with a club in Germany, Maryland's goalkeeper position was one of the team's biggest question marks going into the season, and Niedermeier's battle with freshman Dayne St. Clair for the starting goalkeeper spot was the team's top storyline. Niedermeier, a redshirt junior who had not started a game before this season, has effectively silenced that conversation. After alternating goalies for the first couple weeks of the season, Sasho Cirovski seems to (but has definitely not publicly) made a decision about who will be manning the Maryland net. Niedermeier has made 23 saves on the season and leads the Big Ten with a 0.52 goals against average. He's shown up to play this year, and while St. Clair very well could be the goalkeepr of the future, Niedermeier is the goalkeeper now.

In the past:

Maryland started off the season ranked No. 13 in the NSCAA Coaches' poll and exceeded the expectations provided by that poll, tying No. 4 Notre Dame, blowing out St. John's and beating No. 1 UCLA. Maryland rose to No. 4 in the poll, but then lost four of its next six games, dropping to No. 13.

What lies ahead:

In its final eight games of the season, Maryland will play one team that is currently ranked in the NSCAA Coaches' Poll. That one team is No. 15 Washington, whom the Terps will host on Oct. 23.

Over these final eight games, Maryland only has to go on the road twice. After playing Northwestern on Friday and Villanova on Monday, the Terps will go on the road a week from Friday to play at Penn State. Then, they come home for games against Indiana, Delaware and Washington before making their final road trip to Ohio State on Holloween. Maryland concludes its season at home against Rutgers on Nov. 4.