Against No. 21 Georgetown, No. 8 Maryland men’s soccer picked up its second consecutive win after defeating Virginia earlier in the week. The Terps were sharp from the get-go on Saturday night.
“I thought in the first half we played our best half of the year,” Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski said on Saturday.
Despite a sloppier second half, the Terps’ two goals in the seventh and 30th minutes were enough to hold off Georgetown, 2-1.
The win bumped Maryland up six spots in the national rankings, as it entered the top 10 for the second time this season.
The Terps will hit the road for the third straight game in their first out-of-region match. Kick-off is set for 6:30 p.m. on Friday and the game will be streamed on the Big Ten Network.
Michigan Wolverines (2-3-1)
2021 record: 8-7-3 (4-3-1)
Head coach Chaka Daley became the second coach in program history after taking over in 2011. Daley has led the Wolverines to a winning record in eight of his 10 seasons in Ann Arbor, four NCAA Tournament berths and one Big Ten title (2017). The 2017 Big Ten Coach of the Year, Daley has done a nice job molding Michigan into a competitive team year in and year out.
The Wolverines have struggled so far, failing to score in four of their six games, including a 3-0 loss to No. 17 Duke. Michigan is coming off a 2-1 win against Detroit Mercy and usually hits its stride once conference play rolls around.
Players to know
Hayden Evans, sophomore goalkeeper, No. 1 — Evans is one of three Wolverines to start in all six matches. In his debut season, Evans started in all 13 of his appearances, allowing 17 goals and saving 48 shots. While Michigan’s defense has been a bit lackluster this season, it has not been Evans’ fault. The sophomore is 15th in the nation with five saves per game while allowing eight goals.
Jason Bucknor, sophomore defender, No. 2 — Not much was expected of Bucknor last season, but he quickly made a name for himself, earning Big Ten All-Freshman Team honors alongside Evans. He does not have any goals in his career, as he usually does his work on the defensive end. In his second season, Bucknor has been asked to be a leader for a backline that needs one.
Kevin Buca, graduate midfielder, No. 19 — Buca has started in all six games but has not made his usual impact. He has yet to record a single point this season, despite being one of Michigan’s main offensive threats over the last two seasons. As a senior, Buca led the team in points (12) with five goals and two assists. If he can get back on track, the Wolverines offense should look dangerous again.
Goalkeeping. Michigan’s backline has allowed 38 shots on goal — the second-most in the Big Ten — but Evans has been able to keep the goals to a minimum. Despite the Wolverines’ record, Evans leads the Big Ten in saves (30) and is second in save percentage (.789). If Michigan can convert on the offense end, it can beat anybody.
Offense. Scoring has been the achilles heel of the Wolverines, as each of their losses were a result of zeros on the scoreboard. Michigan’s offense was solid last season, scoring 23 goals in 18 games, but it has taken a giant step back this year. Buca and the rest of the Wolverines will need to pick it up if they want to defeat Maryland.
Three things to watch
1. Evans will have his work cut out for him. The Terps’ offense has been electric as of late. Maryland scored a combined six goals on 29 shots — 16 on goal — in its last two games, slicing through defenses. Although Evans has been spectacular, he will have to do the heavy lifting on the defensive end against Michigan’s toughest opponent yet.
2. Can the Terps stay hot? Maryland is on a tear, outscoring Virginia and Georgetown by a combined six goals last week. After beginning the season a bit rusty, Maryland has been one of the best offensive teams in the nation while playing elite defense. If the Terps can keep this up during conference play, they are well on their way to a Big Ten title.
“The confidence of the team is at a high, but we’re still gonna maintain our culture, our discipline,” senior midfielder Malcolm Johnston said. “The past seasons are the past seasons, but, you know, I want to get some rings. I want to be smiling at the end of the Big Ten season.”
3. How will Maryland fare in the Big Ten this season? In 2021, the Terps finished second in the Big Ten, just one win behind Penn State. Cirovski’s squad is eager to bring a trophy back to College Park and it all starts Friday night.
“Our goal is to bring back some trophies this year. We’ve gone three years without a trophy, and I’m not happy about it,” Cirovski said prior to the season.
Michigan always puts together a solid unit, though, and should be a great introduction to conference play.
“They’re a very difficult team to play. We always have very close contests with Michigan,” Cirovski said. “We have a great respect for Michigan and we expect a real tough battle on Friday.”