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No. 8 Maryland men’s soccer vs. Old Dominion preview

The Terps take a break from Big Ten play to take on the Monarchs.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Coming off a disappointing 3-3 tie against Penn State, No. 8 Maryland men’s soccer put together its first shutout of the season against then-No. 13 Ohio State.

It was a gritty victory for the Terps in a game that saw just 14 total shot attempts. Maryland capitalized on its moment in the second half, though, leading to a score from freshman forward Max Riley, the first of his career.

Head coach Sasho Cirovski elected to start Riley in the second period as his halftime adjustments continued to generate positive results.

“It was a game where I think all of the players who didn’t start really came in and raised the level,” Cirovski said Sunday.

The Terps will now take a brief break from Big Ten play with Old Dominion on deck. Friday’s home game will begin at 7 p.m. and can be watched on Big Ten Plus.

Old Dominion Monarchs (4-2-2, 1-0-1 Sun Belt)

2021 record: 3-9-2 (1-5-2 Sun Belt)

Head coach Alan Dawson is a legend in the college soccer world. He is the winningest coach in Old Dominion history with a 390-190-59 record, which slots him in the top 15 for all-time winning percentage in collegiate men’s soccer. In 26 seasons, Dawson has led the Monarchs to 12 NCAA Tournament appearances, with his 2006 and 2007 teams advancing to the Sweet 16. While Old Dominion has struggled in recent years, the Monarchs are always a threat under Dawson.

Players to know

Tristan Jenkins, graduate forward, No. 11 — Jenkins is one of the main reasons why Old Dominion has a winning record for the first time in four seasons. After playing professional soccer over the last four years, Jenkins has made his way to America and is taking the country by storm. The graduate student is 21st in the nation in goals (5) and 15th in shot accuracy (.647).

Karan Mandair, sophomore midfielder, No. 8 — Mandair was one of the Monarchs’ lone bright spots last year after finishing second on the team in goals (4) with only eight shot attempts. He has not been able to maintain this exceptional level of efficiency this season — he is 0-for-4 — but did record his first career assist on Sept. 20 against VCU. However, Mandair is solid on both sides of the ball and should still be heavily involved.

Jonas Schmalbach, graduate forward, No. 9 — Schmalbach played at UCF during the last three seasons and is another forward who has helped turn this year’s team around. He started in just eight matches for the Knights, but has carved out a significant role for himself with Old Dominion. Schmalbach has started in all eight matches this year, recording two goals and three assists.

Strength

Defense. The Monarchs have proved to be one of the best defensive teams in the nation through the first month of play. Old Dominion has tallied four shutouts and is ranked 12th in the country in goals allowed (5). However, Maryland is ranked 35th in total goals (17), so it will be a challenge for the Monarchs’ defense to hold up.

Weakness

Offensive consistency. Old Dominion has shown flashes of dominance on the offensive end, but it has also struggled at times. In two of the Monarchs’ last three games, they have scored four goals, but they have also been shut out four times. It will be interesting to see which version of Old Dominion the Terps see on Friday.

Three things to watch

1. Can Maryland’s defense keep it up? The Terps were not their usual selves against Penn State last Tuesday, allowing a season-high three goals and seven shots on goal. On the other hand, Maryland recorded a clean sheet against Ohio State, its toughest opponent yet. The Terps have only allowed six goals in their last five games, so it is possible that the Penn State match was just a bump in the road. Although, with senior goalkeeper Niklas Neumann likely to miss his fourth consecutive game, Maryland will have to be sharp.

“[We] have to come out with more energy in the first half, in my opinion. [We need to] keep building on our second-half performance and keep the ball out of the net,” sophomore midfielder Griffin Dillon said.

2. How will Cirovski use his bench? Cirovski has heavily leaned on his bench over the past few games. Four of Maryland’s last six goals have come after halftime substitutions, two of which were scored by bench players in Riley and junior forward Stefan Copetti. The Terps have had 12 different goal scorers this season, and with so many weapons it will be interesting to see how Cirovski juggles playing time.

“It’s really nice to have so many quality guys and you could obviously see in this team that we have a lot of depth,” redshirt sophomore Joe Suchecki said. “Against [Virginia] we had six goals, and all from different guys, which is crazy and it’s a real asset to our team. Anyone can step up and anyone has the ability to step up to make a real difference.”

3. Can Old Dominion pull an upset? The Monarchs are having a fantastic season thus far, but have not faced any nationally ranked teams yet. Old Dominion is currently 151st in the Ratings Power Index (RPI), and the best team that they have faced is Campbell, which ranks 50th. The Monarchs have looked great so far this season, but will it translate against a team of Maryland’s caliber?