No. 7 Maryland men’s soccer’s three-game winning streak came to an end Sunday after tying Northwestern, 1-1.
The last time these two teams met, the Wildcats knocked Maryland out of the Big Ten Tournament despite the Terps being the No. 2 seed.
Maryland was unable to get its revenge this season as its offense was neutralized for most of the game. Northwestern graduate goalkeeper Christian Garner had one of the best games of his career, stopping the Terps on multiple one-on-one opportunities en route to six total saves.
Junior forward Stefan Copetti was able to break through in the 74th minute, but it was not enough to catapult Maryland to a victory.
The Terps will look to get back on track in front of their home crowd on Friday night. The match against Wisconsin will begin at 5 p.m. and be streamed on ESPNU.
Wisconsin Badgers (4-5-2, 1-3 Big Ten)
2021 record: 7-7-3 (3-5-1)
Head coach Neil Jones is in his first year with the Badgers after spending nine seasons as the head coach of Loyola Chicago. Jones has won at all levels. As a player, he captained three NCAA Tournament teams, while posting a 66-15-7 record with UC Santa Barbara. After his playing career, Jones joined the Gauchos’ coaching staff and helped them win a national championship in 2006. During his years at Loyola Chicago, Jones led the Ramblers to a 81-54-24 record and two NCAA Tournament appearances.
The Badgers are having a solid season so far, and they should continue to get better as Jones gets more comfortable.
“Their record does not reflect how well they’ve played,” Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “I think it’s a very good team. It’s a new coach [and] they have an energy about them right now.”
Players to know
Maxwell Keenan, junior defender, No. 8 — Despite being a defender, Keenan is lethal on offense. He is third in the Big Ten in goals (5), while dishing out two assists. Although he is having the best season of his career, Keenan has always displayed offensive potential. He posted six goals and seven assists during a three-year stint at Western Michigan, including four goals in 2021.
Inaki Iribarren, senior midfielder, No. 3 — Iribarren has been a consistent starter since joining the Badgers in 2019 and truly broke onto the scene last year when he led the team in goals (4). This season, Iribarren has been more of a facilitator as he leads the team in assists (3).
Jack Finnegan, junior forward, No. 7 — Finnegan is another offensive weapon at Jones’ disposal. The junior is second on the team in points (8) with three goals and two assists. After earning just six starts last year, Finnegan has started in eight of his 11 appearances and is making the most of them.
Defense. Despite losing their only All-Big Ten selection and best defender in Moritz Kappelsberger, Wisconsin’s biggest strength is still defense. The Badgers allowed the fewest goals in the Big Ten last year (14) and are second this year (12). With Maryland struggling on offense, Wisconsin may have a shot to upset the Terps.
Offense. Despite having a lot of talent on the offensive end, the Badgers have struggled to find the back of the net. Wisconsin ranks seventh in the Big Ten in goals and sixth in total shots. The Terps have also thrived on the defensive end and will make life difficult for Wisconsin’s forwards.
Three things to watch
1. Will Malcolm Johnston be at full strength? Senior midfielder Malcolm Johnston was held out of Sunday’s match against Northwestern with a concussion, and the Terps struggled. Playing against the worst defensive team in the Big Ten, Maryland only scored one goal and could not convert on countless opportunities. Cirovski confirmed that Johnston is good to go against Wisconsin, but it may take a game or two to find his rhythm again.
“Everything about his game we missed against Northwestern,” Copetti said. “His patience and calmness on the ball. He really is kind of like our playmaker and maestro on the field.”
2. Will the Terps’ offense regain its elite status? Maryland’s eight-game unbeaten streak has been a tale of two four-game stretches. Through the first four games, the Terps averaged 3.25 goals per game, which would rank second in the nation. But over its last four, Maryland has scored multiple goals just once. With the regular season coming to a close, now would be an opportune time for the Terps to pick it up again.
“There were times that the intent was good, but the outcome was not,” Cirovski said. “We will keep working on trying to become a little bit better with our attacking play and I think we’ve had some good moments, but, you know, we’re still trying to make sure the connections are strong and that we become dangerous when we have the ball.”
3. Can Maryland bounce back? The Terps have five games remaining in the regular season and currently sit atop the Big Ten standings. While Maryland is on an eight-game unbeaten streak, a tie was not an ideal result for the seventh-ranked team in the nation against the one-win Wildcats. Northwestern is a tough place to play, so it will be interesting to see if the Terps can bounce back at home.