It was a night and day outing for the No. 7 Maryland men’s soccer team against Ohio State on Friday, as a strong first half was upended by a relentless effort from the Buckeyes in the second half of the game.
Backed by a two-goal cushion and a strong defense led by goalkeeper Niklas Neumann, the Terrapins hung on to prevail in Columbus to improve to 7-1.
Up next is a top-25 matchup against No. 21 Rutgers, a team that Maryland knocked off in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals by virtue of penalty kicks last season. It was a heartbreaking loss for the Scarlet Knights and the Terps will have to fend off a team seeking an upset.
The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. and will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights (7-1-1, 1-1 Big Ten)
2020-21 season: 4-4-1 (4-4)
Head coach Jim McElderry joined the staff in Piscataway in 2019 but has already made significant strides during his brief tenure. After leaving his post with the Fordham Rams, McElderry has guided the Scarlet Knights toward revisiting its most successful days of the past. Last season tied Rutgers’ best conference record since joining the Big Ten and even included its first victory against the Terrapins since 1995.
This season has been kind to the Scarlet Knights as they have jumped out to a 7-1-1 record, highlighted by a 2-0 road victory against then-No. 11 Indiana. Despite the 7-0-1 start, Rutgers suffered its only loss on the year in its most recent outing against Wisconsin — the team picked to finish last in the Big Ten preseason coaches poll.
Players to know
Freshman forward Nico Rosamilia (No. 15) — Rosamilia has been a revelation for McElderry and the Scarlet Knights, pacing the team with three goals and seven points. Not only that, but the freshman’s shot on goal percentage sits at 60%, an impressive mark for the New York Red Bulls development academy product.
Rosamilia scored his three goals between consecutive games, Saint Joseph’s and Indiana, making him a potential boom or bust candidate that started in just four games thus far this season.
Junior goalkeeper Oren Asher (No. 1) — In eight starts, Asher has compiled five shutouts. He hit a rough patch between Sept. 10 and Sept. 17, but aside from that three-game stretch, Asher has definitively been the top goalkeeper in the Big Ten to this point. He holds a .486 goals allowed average, as he’s allowed just four goals in the process. The loss to Wisconsin was without Asher in net as he was out due to a non-coronavirus-related illness, but it’ll be interesting to see how the star keeper responds to his breakaway.
Senior defender Thomas DeVizio (No. 2) — DeVizio is a rock-solid presence on the Rutgers backline that has not only been of tremendous help to Asher’s five shutouts on the season but has been an instrumental piece of the offense with his team-leading four assists. A preseason All-Big Ten selection in 2019, DeVizio logged just 477 minutes in the spring over nine games. Having already surpassed that mark with 649 minutes played so far this season, the senior will look to continue contributing in a big way.
Defense. Maryland may meet its match on Tuesday against one of the better defensive teams in the conference. Five shutouts and just four goals allowed by Asher highlights a defense that will be hard to penetrate. The star goalkeeper is fronted by DeVizio, as well as graduate student Vincent Borden, freshman Joey Zalinsky and juniors Chris Tiao and Hugo Le Guennec. The stout backline has allowed an opponent average of .67 goals per game, good for second in the Big Ten.
Eagerness on offense. There isn’t much to nitpick about Rutgers this season. They have evolved into one of the better Big Ten teams in the three years under McElderry. If there is a flaw in its playstyle, an overeagerness on offense may attribute to some sort of downfall. Rutgers is third in the conference with 20 offsides calls, an average of 2.22 a game. This compares to Maryland’s nine at a one per game average.
Three things to watch
1. Who will be in goal for the Terps? If head coach Sasho Cirovski is to stick with his plan of alternating Jamie Lowell and Neumann as starting goalkeepers, Lowell lines up to get the nod against Rutgers. With that being said, there are no updates on Lowell’s injury status after he left his last start in the second half. Further adding to the uncertainty, Neumann was borderline unstoppable against Ohio State and willed Maryland to victory. If Cirovski were to deter from the alternating keepers, it would make sense given Lowell’s injury and Neumann’s recent dominance, but it’s anyone's guess at this point.
2. Can Joshua Bolma keep up his torrid start to conference play? The forward has gotten off to a blistering start in conference play, tallying two goals and an assist as a difference-maker in wins over Michigan and Ohio State. The defense that Rutgers churns out may be a bit more of a challenge for the redshirt sophomore, nevertheless, his dynamic play style makes him a threat on a nightly basis.
3. How will Maryland handle a team seeking revenge? Against Ohio State, it was Maryland that came into the meeting seeking some redemption following a loss in the spring. This time around, it will be Maryland’s opponent searching for revenge — and in a big way. Add in the fact that Rutgers just suffered its first loss of the season in its last outing and the Scarlet Knights will embark to College Park with added motivation.