No. 8 Maryland men’s soccer is on a roll, winning three straight games and six of its last seven.
After tying Penn State, 3-3, the Terps vowed to clean up their defense and limit mistakes after surrendering a season-high in goals. Maryland stuck to its word and grinded out two shutout wins against then-No. 13 Ohio State and Old Dominion.
With these elite defensive performances under their belt, the Terps had a true test ahead of them as they took on the best offensive team in the Big Ten in Rutgers.
As expected, the Scarlet Knights challenged Maryland early. Rutgers senior forward MD Myers scored two goals in two minutes, putting the Terps in a deep hole. With all the momentum in Rutgers’ favor, senior forward Hunter George received a throw-in, dribbled toward the box and rifled a 25-yarder into the top left corner of the net.
This halted the Scarlet Knights’ momentum until Maryland took over in the second half. Senior midfielder Malcolm Johnston tied the game with an impressive bicycle kick and redshirt senior Nick Richardson completed the comeback with his third career goal.
Now, the Terps shift their focus to Sunday when they hit the road to play Northwestern. The game will begin at 1 p.m. and can be streamed on BTN Plus.
Northwestern (1-6-3, 0-3-1 Big Ten)
2021 record: 6-9-3 (3-5)
Head coach Russell Payne is in his second year with Northwestern after 11 seasons at Army. Payne achieved some success at West Point, including a 12-3-3 record in 2013. Prior to coaching the Black Knights, he played and coached at Maryland under head coach Sasho Cirovski. As an assistant coach, Payne helped lead the Terps to two national championships (2005, 2008) and 83 wins over a five-year span.
However, Payne has not found the same success with the Wildcats, as he currently holds a 7-15-6 record.
Players to watch
Justin Weiss, junior forward, No. 6 — Weiss has been the Wildcats’ best player over the last two years. As a sophomore, he started in all 17 matches and led the team in points (18) with eight goals and two assists. This season, Northwestern’s win total has diminished and so has Weiss’ production. The junior only has three goals and two assists through 10 games. Nevertheless, he is still a one-man offense waiting to erupt.
Collin McCamy, sophomore midfielder, No. 4 — McCamy was a staple in Northwestern’s midfield last year, starting 10 of his 17 appearances and earning a unanimous selection onto the All-Big Ten freshman team. He only recorded one goal, but provided value on a solid Wildcats defense. Northwestern is struggling on the defensive end this season, though, and will need McCamy to step up against one of the best offenses in the nation.
Vicente Castro, senior midfielder, No. 10 — Castro is the Wildcats’ main facilitator. He has 16 career assists and seven in 2021, which ranks seventh in program history. Castro has had a solid season with one goal and three assists, but will need to step it up if Northwestern has hopes of upsetting the Terps.
Coaching. The Wildcats have struggled to find a true identity this season. They are not dominant on the offensive or defensive end, which creates a challenging path to beat Maryland. The only way Northeastern can take down the Terps is through schemes and adjustments, and if anyone can figure out Cirovski, it’s his old assistant Payne.
Defense. The Wildcats are one of the worst defensive teams in the Big Ten this year. They have allowed the most goals in the conference (25) and have the third-lowest save percentage (.648). It’s hard to imagine this being any different come Sunday.
Three things to watch
1. Where will Maryland dominate? The last four games for the Terps have consisted of two three-goal games and two shutouts. Maryland has shown the ability to take over games on either side of the ball. So the question becomes, will the Terps take advantage of Northwestern’s defense, offense or both?
2. Has Nick Richardson turned into an offensive weapon? Through his first four seasons as a Terp, Richardson played a primarily defensive role. He recorded five assists and zero goals in 47 appearances as he rarely looked to score. But things are different this year, as the redshirt senior is second on the team in points (10), tallying a career-high in goals (3) and assists (4). With his efficiency skyrocketing, the Terps’ offense has never been more dangerous.
3. Can Maryland get its revenge? Despite having less than half their wins, Northwestern defeated the Terps in the Big Ten Tournament last season. Maryland was the No. 2 seed and did not even make it past the first round thanks to a Wildcat upset, halting its efforts to bring a trophy back to College Park. However, Maryland holds all of the power this time around as the Terps are the No. 8 ranked team in the nation while Northwestern only has one win.