The No. 7 Maryland men’s soccer team could’ve received a big boost in its standing in the Big Ten table, but its road finale against Penn State ended in heartbreak. After leading 2-0 toward the end of the first half, Maryland ceded three straight goals to lose in overtime.
“I think we had a lot of silly turnovers,” defender Brett St. Martin said. “I think we’ve done a couple of times this year is just give teams opportunities and we really got to cut that out.”
The difficult loss dropped the Terps below the Nittany Lions by two points and they will need a bit of help to lock in the top overall seed. But the first order of business is to take care of No. 22 Indiana.
After starting the season ranked second in the United Soccer Coaches poll, the Hoosiers fell off a bit, but have since seen a resurgence of late and are currently in the top spot in the Big Ten.
Maryland can play spoiler in the regular season finale and on a day where the Terrapins will be honoring their seniors, they will have extra motivation to get the job done.
“You’re talking about two of the great programs in college soccer history,” head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “I know we love playing them. I think they love playing us. It adds a little it extra juice with it being the final game of the year and with so much on the line.”
The game will be played at 1 p.m. on Sunday and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
No. 22 Indiana Hoosiers (12-3-1, Big Ten 5-2)
2020-21 Record: 12-2-2 (7-1)
Head coach Todd Yeagley is in the midst of another successful season at the helm of the Hoosier program. Since being hired in December 2009 following a debut coaching stint with Wisconsin, Yeagley has continued the long line of success for men’s soccer in Bloomington. Inheriting a seven-time national championship-winning program, six of which came under his father, Yeagley has compiled a 149-50-40 record and an impressive .706 winning percentage in conference play since taking over in 2010. He also has an NCAA Tournament title to his name from 2013.
Yeagley is looking to guide his team to a fourth College Cup appearance in five years. It was a difficult start to the season for Indiana as it fell out of the Top 25 following a 3-2-1 record. But since its loss in the Big Ten opener to Rutgers, the Hoosiers have pieced together a 9-1 record, including a seven-game win streak in which they haven’t allowed a goal.
Players to know
Junior forward Victor Bezerra, 6-foot-0, No. 7 — In just his third season in Bloomington, Bezerra has already established himself as one of the premier talents in the country. He burst into the national spotlight with a breakout sophomore season in the spring, being named a United Soccer Coaches first team All-American and placing as runner up for the MAC Hermann Trophy, which is awarded to the top collegiate soccer player in the country. This year Bezerra has continued his stellar rise to stardom as he sits atop the team’s scoring leaderboard with 17 points on six goals.
Junior goalkeeper Roman Celentano, 6-foot-3, No. 1 — Whereas Bezerra was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Celentano was named Goalkeeper of the Year after giving up 0.36 goals per game. This season, Celentano has been instrumental in Indiana’s ascent back into the top-25. He hasn’t allowed a goal since Oct. 1 — a seven-start streak of shutout play in net. This stretch has dropped Celentano’s goals allowed average 0.50 goals from 1.19 to 0.69.
Redshirt senior defender Spencer Glass, 6-foot-0, No. 21 — Rounding out Indiana’s star-studded lineup of preseason players to watch is Glass. A third team All-American the previous year, the veteran leader of Indiana’s backline has been Celentano’s right-hand man throughout this recent string of defensive success. Glass doesn’t have booming stats, much like most defenders, but his impact on the result of the match is profound.
Poise. While Indiana may not be quite the powerhouse it has been in recent years as the Hoosiers have trailed Maryland in the national rankings practically all season, the well-oiled machine at Yeagley’s disposal can always be relied upon for its patience and poise on the pitch. The experience of Indiana shines on game day, as the team averages the least amount of fouls per game (8.88) and yellow cards per game (0.56) in the Big Ten while also committing the second-lowest number of offside penalties (23), four more than the Terps.
Offense in big games. To the naked eye, Indiana looks to be as advertised in the preseason as it is in the midst of a win streak that has spanned the entirety of October. While they have the pedigree and the expectations of a national title caliber team, the Hoosiers have shown some vulnerability this season.
A four-goal performance in its last outing versus VCU and a 9-0 demolishment of Trine University on Oct. 9 has padded Indiana’s offensive numbers over the course of this win streak. The fact of the matter is, although they have steadily risen back into the national spotlight, its offense has struggled in big games as highlighted by a pair of double-overtime wins and a quartet of slim 1-0 victories.
Three things to watch
1. How will Big Ten Tournament shape out? With four Big Ten contests left to be played on Sunday, just two will have an effect on Maryland’s placement on the final table. Here is how the seeding can pan out for the Terrapins:
No. 1 seed
Maryland win over Indiana, Wisconsin win over Penn State
No. 2 seed
Maryland win over Indiana, Wisconsin-Penn State draw
Maryland win over Indiana, Penn State win over Wisconsin
2. Can the Terps bounce back on Senior Day? Maryland was originally scheduled to honor its seniors against Pacific but opted to move the celebration back to this pivotal regular season finale. This match comes off the heels of a derailment against Penn State, but with so much at stake, Maryland will surely come out with added aggression given the setting.
“We know that in these moments, in these games, you need a complete performance and we didn’t get that at Penn State,” Cirovski said. “I think our players understand how important it is to pay attention to the details and to make sure that we have both the physical and mental capacity necessary in these big moments.”
Defender Nick Richardson added to Cirovski’s comments on the added intensity to this huge matchup against the Hoosiers.
“You kind of have a little bit of extra motivation going on throughout the week just because you know the potential of a win and a loss,” Richardson said. “I think everybody has a little bit more on their mind this week and little bit extra pep in their step.”
3. How will Indiana look to contain Ben Bender? Midfielder Ben Bender has been the bonafide player of the year for the Terrapins with his recent string of success. The sophomore has rattled off goals in four consecutive games, which has put him in the conversation for Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Something will have to give between Bender’s scoring streak and Indiana’s shutout streak.