Maryland men’s soccer (1-2-2) faced another challenge last Thursday night when it started conference play against Michigan. After falling behind due to an all-too-common defensive lapse, Maryland fought back to take the lead in the second half. But an uninspiring final 30 minutes allowed the Wolverines to equalize.
The Terps, sitting on just one win almost a month into the season, will be eager to bolster their resume with a conference win against Penn State.
Tuesday’s game will begin at 6 p.m. and air on Big Ten Network.
Penn State Nittany Lions (3-1-2, 1-0 Big Ten)
2022 record: 6-6-4 (3-2-3 Big Ten)
Head coach Jeff Cook has an excellent track record in his six seasons at Penn State, leading the Nittany Lions to five NCAA Tournament appearances. In 2021, Penn State clinched both the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles.
Penn State has just one loss on the year, a 3-0 defeat to in-state rival Penn. Against No. 5 Pittsburgh and No. 1 Syracuse, the Nittany Lions pulled off impressive draws. Their three victories came against Le Moyne, Ohio State and St. John’s.
Players to know
Kris Shakes, fifth-year goalkeeper, No. 1 — Shakes is one of the more decorated goalkeepers in the Big Ten, holding an impressive 29-8-2 career record to go along with 14 shutouts.
This season, he was named the Big Ten Player of the Week in each of the first two weeks and has accumulated 27 saves with an .844 save percentage.
Peter Mangione, senior forward, No. 8 — The 2021 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year has had a remarkable career in State College. Mangione has scored 23 goals over the course of his tenure, 11 of which were game--winners.
Femi Awodesu, senior defender, No. 2 — Awodesu is a key cog at center back for the Nittany Lions. He has helped contribute to eight shutouts over the course of his career and was named to the All-Big Ten second team in 2022.
Efficiency. The Nittany Lions rank second in the Big Ten with 11 goals in six games. Despite that, they average just 4.3 shots on goal per game, which is the second-worst mark in the conference.
Fouling. Penn State and Maryland have similar issues when it comes to committing violations. While the Terps have averaged 12.4 fouls per game, the Nittany Lions don’t lag far behind, with 12 infractions per match.
Three things to watch
1. Changing formations. In Maryland’s match against Michigan, head coach Sasho Cirovski opted for a 4-4-2 formation instead of a 4-3-3, which opened up the midfield and enabled the Terps to send numerous through balls to their forwards from various field positions.
It will be intriguing to see if Maryland continues with this formation or opts for an extra forward to further increase the pace against Penn State.
2. Can Maryland tighten up defensively? In recent games, the Terps have struggled with untimely defensive lapses. While they’ve maintained the same defensive lineup throughout the season, it’s intriguing to consider if they’ll make any schematic changes.
3. Set-piece success. Maryland scored one of its goals against Michigan off a free-kick delivery by freshman forward Kimani Stewart-Baynes. If the offense continues to stall, the Terps must make the most of corner kicks and free kicks, particularly if the Nittany Lions continue to commit fouls at their current rate.