Maryland men’s soccer has gone five games without notching a win. Its most recent match yielded a 1-0 loss against Wisconsin, in which the Terps were outshot nine to five.
In the first half, forward Max Riley skied a penalty kick, making the squad 0-for-3 on such attempts on the season. The Badgers scored the game’s only goal in the 71st minute, when a cross slipped from goalkeeper Jamie Lowell’s grasp and led to an easy tap-in. To make matters worse, Lowell was injured during the sequence and had to be carted off the pitch.
As the Terps return home, they’ll look for a much-needed victory against another formidable opponent in No. 13 Northwestern.
The Wildcats are undefeated on the season, with seven wins and two draws. In their latest contest against Ohio State, Northwestern staged an impressive comeback to secure a 4-2 victory.
Friday’s match will begin at 7 p.m. and stream on Big Ten Plus.
Northwestern Wildcats (7-0-2, 1-0-1 Big Ten)
2022 record: 3-9-5 (1-5-2 Big Ten)
Russell Payne is in his third season as the head coach of the Wildcats. Before his time in Evanston, he spent 11 years as Army’s head coach. Payne also has ties to Maryland, where he served as an assistant for five years and helped see the Terps to two national championships. He also served as the United States Men’s National Team goalkeepers coach from 2015-17.
Players to know
Justin Weiss, senior forward, No. 10 — Weiss has been unsurprisingly spectacular this season, given he was pegged as a Big Ten Player to Watch before the season. The forward was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 12 after tallying three goals and two assists across two games. The Colgate transfer also led the Wildcats in points as a sophomore.
Rom Brown, senior forward, No. 13 — Brown was selected to the College Soccer News Men’s National Team of Week after posting three goals in two matches. The forward appeared in all 17 games as a junior, but recorded just one assist. This year, Brown has progressed significantly with four goals already to his name.
Jason Gajadhar, sophomore midfielder, No. 6 — Gajadhar was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman and All-Tournament teams in 2022. Last year, he started in 11 games, scoring three goals and notching an assist. This season, he has scored just once, but still remains a threat for the Wildcats.
Scoring. It’s not just about how often the Wildcats score, but the way in which they score. The team has 20 goals and 19 assists on the season, emphasizing its playmaking ability and ball movement. Northwestern has 59 total points this year, which is 11 more than the next closest team in the Big Ten.
Generating corner kicks. While it’s an interesting, albeit cherry-picked statistic, the Wildcats don’t have many glaring weaknesses. This season, Northwestern has 33 corner kicks in nine games, with seven of them coming all in one match. Meanwhile, its opponents have accumulated 52 corner kicks.
Three things to watch
1. How will the Terps fare against a ranked opponent? In recent encounters with ranked opponents, the Terps lost to No. 15 Virginia, drew No. 18 Wake Forest, and defeated No. 10 UNC Greensboro. In each match, the Terps exhibited an aggressive approach, but produced mixed results.
2. Attacking in the final third. A critical challenge in the Terps’ quest for victory lies in their struggle to control the ball in the opponent’s half. Despite often dominating possession, Maryland has faced difficulties in managing crosses and finishing in tight areas.
3. The goalkeeper situation. With Lowell sidelined due to injury, sophomore Mikah Seger steps into the role temporarily. The lingering question is the extent of Lowell’s absence. If the recovery time is substantial, will Seger shoulder the responsibility alone, or will the team opt to field freshman Saxon Wolcott, who has yet to see any game action this season?