Maryland men’s soccer went into its season opener against No. 18 Charlotte on August 26, as the underdogs, but walked away as battled-tested victors in an impressive 1-0 victory in front of its raucous home crowd.
Freshman forward Caden Stafford converted the lone goal in the 39th minute, as the Terrapin defense hunkered down the rest of the way and limited the 49ers to just six shots.
It was a prudent victory as the young Terps will look to improve to 2-0 as they face a quick turnaround in hosting in-state rival UMBC on Sunday at 7:30 p.m.
UMBC Retrievers (0-0-1)
2020-21 Record: 3-4-1 (2-3-1 America East)
Head coach Pete Caringi Jr. is entering his 31st season as the Retrievers’ head coach and has made major strides in the position. He catapulted UMBC to national prominence with a Final Four run in 2014, a year in which Caringi Jr. was named the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Division I Coach of the Year. The storied coach has 302 wins to his name, but recently his Retrievers have fallen out of not only the national spotlight but also the America East’s upper echelon after failing to qualify for the conference tournament the past two seasons.
The Retrievers’ first game of the season ended in a 2-2 tie with Navy as the game went into double overtime. UMBC will be searching for its first win against the Terps.
Players to know
Taylor Calheira, sophomore midfielder, No. 15— Calheira is the most aggressive player on this Retriever team. In his freshman season at UMBC, Calheira averaged three shots per game and was second in the conference with 16 shots on goal. He didn’t come away with a score in the team’s opener against Navy on August 26, but his three shots paced the team. His aggressiveness came at a price, however, as he collected one of seven yellow cards in the match between the two sides.
Quantrell Jones, senior goalkeeper, No. 1— Jones arguably the most polished player at Caringi Jr.’s disposal. Jones established himself as one of the more underrated goalkeepers in the country with a superb freshman season, one in which he orchestrated five shutouts in net. Last season he was the iron man for the Retrievers as he played every minute en route to 4.5 saves per game which stood at the top of the conference.
Ryan Becher, junior midfielder No. 21— Becher is the younger brother of senior forward Jackson Becher and has started every match of his career. Now entering year three, Becher is due for a breakout campaign. Although not a prolific scorer — just five goals to his name in 24 career games — Becher is an all-around force when it comes to moving the ball. Not just that, but his 6’3” frame allows the junior to peruse a lot of the field and make quick decisions.
Play in goal. As previously mentioned, Jones is a tank in the net. His stats speak for itself, but as evidenced by a rather impressive -0.25 scoring margin despite such little offense, Jones makes a load of a difference for UMBC. Even after allowing two goals against Navy, one such goal was on a penalty kick in the 87th minute. If Maryland wants to use its same high-speed offense against UMBC on Sunday, they are going to have to catch Jones napping — a rarity in the senior’s solid career.
Generating offense. UMBC was atrocious in converting on the offensive end last season. While the team as a whole attempted 104 shots (50 SOG), but it resulted in a lackluster six goals. They also committed a conference-high 30 offside penalties, further limiting the offense. This season started off a bit more promising as they tallied two scores — a third of its full spring season in just one game. However, that came off of just six shots total for the game compared to 22 by the Midshipmen.
Three things to watch
1. Can Stafford and the rest of the young guns keep it up? It couldn’t have been a more perfect start to a collegiate career than what Stafford produced on Thursday. After entering the fray off the bench, he delivered with a thunderous goal in the 39th minute. But what about the rest of the young studs on the Terps and will they produce again? Forward Joshua Bolma will certainly look to enter the points column after coming close on a few opportunities, while spring standout forward Ben Bender should have plenty of chances to add to his solid goal output from his freshman year.
2. Will the Terp get to Quantrell Jones early and often? If the younger players and the rest of the team for that matter want to improve to 2-0, they are going to have to get past the senior goalkeeper for the Retrievers. One key is to pressure Jones early and often. All Maryland has to do is do what they did against Charlotte and get into the opposition’s side of the field with urgency. Easy enough right? We will see on Sunday if the Terps go fast or slow it down a little bit.
3. How will The Crew impact Maryland’s performance? Maryland’s student section was on top of its game against Charlotte. They didn’t miss a beat after nearly two years away from Ludwig, but they made up for lost time on Thursday making it an uncomfortable environment for the 49ers as they produced a donut on the scoreboard. Now, with classes starting the day after UMBC encounters The Crew, there’s reason to believe the crowd will be even more filled and more intense.