After encountering a three-game rough patch – tying Wisconsin and Northwestern then losing to High Point – No. 8 Maryland men’s soccer has rallied over the past few games and is now in position to win the Big Ten regular season title.
The Terps have been stout on the defensive end. They did not allow Michigan State to take a single shot attempt and then held Delaware to five shots, all of which came in the second half.
“Keeping that defensive discipline [and] defensive energy was really our key,” senior defender Chris Rindov said. “I think we kind of just eliminated giving up those sloppy chances.”
Maryland brought that same intensity on the offensive end against Delaware as the Terps scored four goals, their second most of the season. Each goal was scored by a different player. Sophomore midfielder Griffin Dillon, junior forward Stefan Copetti and senior forward Justin Harris all got on the board, but freshman defender Mack Devries may have had the most memorable moment.
The match against the Blue Hens marked Devries’ first appearance of the season and he made the most of it, scoring the first goal of his collegiate career.
Now coming off back-to-back wins, the Terps will have to stay composed in a pivotal game against Indiana. The match will begin at 1 p.m. on Sunday and be streamed on the Big Ten Network.
Indiana Hoosiers (8-3-5, 3-1-1 Big Ten)
2021 record: 15-6-1, 5-3-0
Head coach Todd Yeagley has been a force in the Big Ten for over a decade. After four years as a player for the Hoosiers, Yeagley gave coaching a try and eventually earned Indiana’s head coaching job in 2009. Yeagley found the most success of his career in his third season, leading the Hoosiers to their eighth NCAA championship in program history. In recent years, Indiana has been unable to bring home another national title, despite being ranked No. 2 in the country in 2020-21.
Players to know
Redshirt senior defender Daniel Munie, No. 5 — Munie is one of the best players in the nation. Prior to the season, Munie was rated the No. 3 player in the country by Top Drawer Soccer and for good reason. Munie has had a phenomenal career with Indiana and last year was his best, earning 2021 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. The redshirt senior also provides some value on the offensive end as he has eight career goals, two of which have come this season.
Redshirt senior forward Ryan Wittenbrink, No. 18 — Wittenbrink is having a breakout season for the Hoosiers. After starting in just six games over three years, Wittenbrink has been a consistent starter this season and does just about everything for Indiana’s offense. Wittenbrink leads the team with six goals and six assists, while holding a .553 shot on goal percentage.
Sophomore forward Tommy Mihalic, No. 10 — Mihalic was a unanimous All-Big Ten freshman team selection in 2021 and has continued his outstanding play this season. Mihalic has been a driving force in the Hoosiers, as he is second on the team in points (14) with six goals and two assists. The sophomore can score in bunches and the Terps need to keep an eye on him.
Offense. As always, Indiana is one of the best offensive teams in the Big Ten. In 2021, the Hoosiers ranked first in goals (38), assists (36) and shots (274). This season, Indiana ranks second in goals (31), assists (35) and points (97).
Goalkeeping. Roman Celentano, last season’s Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year, was drafted into the MLS this past year, leaving a massive hole in the net for Indiana. The Hoosiers have started two goalkeepers this year – redshirt senior Bryant Pratt and junior JT Harms – and neither of them have been able to replicate Celentano’s production. Indiana ranks last in the Big Ten in saves (33) and save percentage (.600).
Three things to watch
1. The Terps are well rested. Many of Maryland’s starters did not play against Delaware on Tuesday, and those who did played limited minutes. This was especially true for the Terps’ offense as senior forward Hunter George played 27 minutes, junior forward Stefan Copetti played 30 minutes and redshirt sophomore Joshua Bolma played 34 minutes. Indiana already played two games this week, so Maryland may be able to outlast them.
2. Can Maryland’s defense hold strong? The Maryland defense has been solid recently and it will now face one of the best offenses in the nation. However, Indiana has struggled over the past few games, scoring once versus Evansville and being shutout against Kentucky. So the question becomes, which side will prevail?
3. What will the Big Ten Tournament look like? Four Big Ten games will be played on Sunday, two of which will affect Maryland’s spot in the conference standings. Here is how things may play out for the Terps:
No. 1 seed
Maryland win over Indiana
Maryland draws Indiana, Ohio State draws or loses to Wisconsin
No. 2 seed
Maryland loses to Indiana, Ohio State loses to Wisconsin
Maryland draws Indiana, Ohio State defeats Wisconsin
No. 3 seed
Maryland loses to Indiana, Ohio State defeats Wisconsin