Maryland men’s soccer earned a first round home game in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, lining up to face the LIU Sharks on Thursday at Ludwig Field in College Park. The match is set to start at 7 p.m.
A win over the Sharks would set up a match against No. 10-seed Saint Louis. No. 7-seed Duke holds the home-field advantage in this region as the road to the College Cup for the Terps runs through Durham, North Carolina in 2021.
Long Island tallied an 11-4-4 record on the season, winning the Northeast Conference championship to secure a spot in the 48-team field.
Both victories in its conference tournament were won in penalty kicks, with the second of which coming against defending champions St. Francis (New York). NEC Tournament MVP goalkeeper Demetri Skoumbakis made the game-winning save in penalties, setting up the Sharks for a date with the Terps.
The Terrapins have flashed brilliance on the pitch at times this season, but have fallen short of its standards every once in a while. Most recently its production dipped below expectations as the No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament fell in a penalty shootout to No. 7 seed Northwestern.
Despite another disappointing result in the conference tourney, Maryland’s season was not in jeopardy with the upset loss. A 12-3-2 record helped the Terps stay within the top-15 of the United Soccer Coaches Poll practically all season.
Led by its tremendous depth, Maryland has proven throughout the year that it may have the most talented roster in the country. Head coach Sasho Cirovski has often found gems off of his bench to admirably fill roles of injured starters.
Players like defenders William Kulvik, Kento Abe and Ryan Blumberg have shuffled into the lineup and have filled in admirably on the backline. While on offense, first-year forwards Caden Stafford and Joshua Bolma put together impressive debut seasons.
Maryland bolstered a lineup of Big Ten honorees, most notably sophomore midfielder Ben Bender winning Big Ten Midfielder of the Year with seven goals on the season.
He is joined on the All-Big Ten first team by Bolma and defender Brett St. Martin. The star-studded cast of characters had a 1.706 scoring average while also allowing a conference-low 0.76 goals per game.
Maryland has shown its prowess on both ends all year, but putting it all together has evaded them at times. The Terps will look to put together a stretch of complete games when it kicks off its NCAA Tournament schedule on Thursday.