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No. 14 Maryland men’s soccer vs. No. 10 UNC-Greensboro preview

The Terps look to bounce back after dropping their season opener.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

No. 14 Maryland men’s soccer failed to get off on the right foot Thursday as it dropped its season opener against Missouri State, 1-0.

Despite the loss, fans saw a glimpse of the future as a plethora of promising freshmen made their debuts; three of whom graced the starting lineup. It was certainly the cause of some early dysfunction, but as the game progressed, the talent was evident. The next step for head coach Sasho Cirovski is clear: find a way to make that talent gel on the pitch.

The Terps have an opportunity to climb back to .500 when they take on the reigning Southern Conference Tournament champions, No. 10 UNC-Greensboro, at 7 p.m. Sunday.

The Spartans began their season with a 1-1 draw Thursday night against California even though they broke first within the first three minutes of the match.

Sunday’s game will be televised on Big Ten Network.

UNC-Greensboro Spartans (0-0-1)

2022 record: (13-2-6, 4-0-1 SoCon)

Chris Rich is currently in his fifth season at the helm of the men’s soccer program. Over the past four years, he has led the Spartans to three Southern Conference regular season titles, two SC Tournament championships and two NCAA Tournament bids. Before his tenure at UNC-Greensboro, Rich served as an assistant coach for various programs, including Duke, North Carolina and Virginia Tech.

Players to watch

Emmanuel Hagan, senior defender, No. 27 — The Ghanaian native had himself a spectacular 2022 campaign, earning All-SoCon first team honors. He was also selected to the United Soccer Coaches All-South Region second yeam. As a junior, Hagan started 20 games, posting two goals and one assist.

Basile Marc, junior midfielder, No. 20 — Marc expanded upon his stellar freshman year in 2022, during which he appeared in all 21 matches, scoring twice and dishing out three assists. As a result, he was named to the All-SoCon second team. He played 72 minutes in the squad’s opening match Thursday.

Steven Hernandez, sophomore forward, No. 17 — Hernandez proved his worth as a true freshman, wasting no time in producing substantial results. He appeared in 20 games and totaled 11 points in the campaign. The forward ended the season with 29 shots and was selected to both the All-SoCon Second Team and All-SoCon Freshman Team.


Schedule. Although it doesn’t necessarily pertain to Sunday’s game, UNC-Greensboro’s lack of competition this season may further motivate them to capitalize in the higher-profile matchups. Aside from Maryland, the Spartans do not face a ranked opponent for the remainder of the season. They led their conference in nearly every major statistical category last season, further illustrating their dominance.


Loss of Niclas Wild. UNC-Greensboro will be without star goalkeeper Niclas Wild this season. Wild had a tremendous career with the Spartans, being named to the All-SoCon first team and the SoCon Goalkeeper of the Year in 2022. With a new face in net, the Terps will look to score their first goal of the season.

Three things to watch

1. A bounce-back game. Both teams lost their opening match of the season, and will now look to avoid an 0-2 record. The last time Maryland lost its home opener was in 2010, when it also dropped its next match, 4-3, against Michigan State. Sunday’s game will pose a significant challenge for Cirovski and the Terps, whether or not they fell short the first game.

2. Who will step up on attack? On Thursday, the Terps experimented with various combinations in the forward positions, yet none managed to yield significant results. Stefan Copetti and Colin Griffith were on the brink of scoring on multiple occasions, and freshman Luke van Heukelum provided a spark of energy and aggressiveness off the bench. In the end, Maryland’s inability to capitalize on set-pieces and services into the box plagued them. Whether it involves experimenting with a fresh lineup or adjusting tactics, someone needs to take charge of the offense.

3. Transition. The Terps struggled to move the ball out of their own territory and maintain possession in the process on Thursday. At times, goalkeeper Jamie Lowell appeared unsure whether to clear the ball himself or give his defenders the opportunity to play it out. On Sunday, the Terps will need to play clean in transition against an assertive offense that won’t hesitate to capitalize on turnovers.