Despite dropping six spots in the national rankings this week, No. 20 Maryland men’s soccer has plenty to be delighted about.
Its performance against highly regarded UNC Greensboro on Sunday evening showcased to the nation the potential that it possesses. The Terps came out with tons of energy as they controlled the pace of play throughout. Although their dominance failed to yield any first-half scores, the attack struck twice in the second half. True freshman forward Kimani Stewart-Baynes reaped the rewards of the Terps’ success, recording both a goal and an assist.
The Terps now have a prime opportunity to continue that momentum when they face No. 16 Wake Forest on Friday night.
The Demon Deacons haven’t dropped a game this season, securing a 3-1 victory in their first match against Grand Canyon and drawing 1-1 against California.
Friday’s game will begin at 7:30 p.m. and be streamed on Big Ten Plus.
Wake Forest Demon Deacons (1-0-1)
2022 record: (14-6, 5-3 ACC)
Now in his ninth season as head coach, Bobby Muuss has accrued a bevy of success with Wake Forest. During his tenure, the Demon Deacons have collected the most wins (130) of any NCAA Division I program. They have made 12 straight NCAA Tournament appearances, which is eight more years than the next ACC school. Muuss became the first coach in league history to be named ACC Coach of the Year in four consecutive campaigns.
Players to watch
Garrison Tubbs, senior defender, No. 32 — Through his first three seasons with the Demon Deacons, Tubbs has started 52 games, tallying seven goals and three assists. The superstar defender was named to the 2023 MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List and was selected as a College News preseason first-team All-American.
Hosei Kijima, senior midfielder, No. 16 — To date, Kijima has started 35 matches for the Demon Deacons, logging six goals and eight assists. His three goals as a junior were all game-winners, and he was subsequently named to the All-ACC academic team.
Babacar Niang, junior midfielder, No. 8 — Niang has arguably been the Demon Deacons’ best performer in their first two matches, scoring twice on nine shots. Last season, the midfielder collected four goals and two assists en route to capturing All-ACC third-team honors.
Midfield unit. Along with the aforementioned Kijima and Niang, Roald Mitchell rounds out a skilled and tenacious midfield unit for Wake Forest. Mitchell notched three shots against California and was an All-ACC second-team selection in 2022. The unit’s versatility was also put on display against Cal, as Kijima and Niang started at defense and forward, respectively.
Inability to capitalize. In its draw against Cal, Wake Forest finished the night with 58% of possession through 90 minutes of action. The Demon Deacons also had a 9-4 advantage on corner kicks, but were unable to pull ahead after Cal knotted the score toward the end of the first half.
Three things to watch
1. Who will start at goalkeeper? Sophomore Micah Seger stopped all six shots he faced against UNC Greensboro, impressing in his debut. Against Missouri State, senior Jamie Lowell made four saves and let in one goal. While both made some pivotal plays, it will be interesting to see if head coach Sasho Cirovski rides the hot hand in Seger or if he continues to rotate between the two.
2. Keeping the pressure on. As a team, Maryland was far more cohesive Sunday night as opposed to last Thursday. Each unit played with significantly more aggression and tempo, resulting in a slew of turnovers from the opposition. Wake Forest will most likely be prepared for the uptick in game speed, so it will be worthy to note whether or not Maryland decides to be more cautious in its approach.
3. Can Stewart-Baynes stay hot? The freshman forward electrified the crowd Sunday, recording a goal and an assist. He has seen ample playing time so far this season, starting in both games. It will be crucial for Stewart-Baynes to continue to produce, as the attention he garners from opponents may open up lanes for fellow forwards Colin Griffith and Stefan Copetti.