After a disheartening loss to Virginia, Maryland men’s soccer finds itself at a crossroads. The Terps fell out of the rankings in the latest national poll and desperately need to find some answers to an array of problems.
Through four matches, the Terps have scored just three times. Against the Cavaliers, they struggled to finish in the final third and keep up with Virginia’s speed on defense.
Despite a quick response after Virginia’s first goal, Maryland was unable to manage much thereafter. A missed penalty kick by Luke van Heukelum in the 58th minute stood out as the Terps’ chief opportunity to regain momentum. The 2-1 loss dropped Maryland to a measly 1-2-1 record.
The Terps have another chance to bounce back Friday evening when they take on Georgetown in College Park.
Similar to the Terps, the Hoyas were nationally ranked to begin the 2023 campaign, but have since dropped off after some unconvincing performances. In its most recent game against Fordham, Georgetown had twice as many shots on goal as the Rams, yet still drew, 3-3.
Friday’s game will begin at 7 p.m. and be streamed on Big Ten Plus.
Georgetown Hoyas (2-1-1)
2022 record: 12-6-3 (8-1-1 Big East)
Head coach Brian Wiese has been at Georgetown’s helm since 2006. Under his leadership, the Hoyas have cemented themselves as one of the country’s premier soccer programs, capturing a national championship in 2019. Georgetown has won seven Big East regular-season titles and five conference tournament championships during that span.
Players to know
Kyle Linhares, senior midfielder, No. 11 — Linhares has been one of the Hoyas’ best performers this season, pacing their attack. The senior has tallied totaled three goals and two assists through four games, earning himself a Big East Offensive Player of the Week selection. In 2022, he ranked fifth in the conference in assists.
Ryan Schewe, senior goalkeeper, No. 1 — Schewe was a second-team All-Big East selection last season, starting all 15 games he appeared in. He boasted a 0.75 goals against average, which was the 18th best in the country. He entered this season as the Preseason Big East Goalkeeper of the Year.
Kenny Nielsen, senior defender, No. 4 — Nielsen was named the Preseason Big East Defender of the Year. He had a stellar 2022 season in which he captained the team and was named a third-team All-Big East honoree. He started 19 games, posting a goal and an assist.
Depth. The Hoyas lost some of their stars from last year, but still have a number of scoring options. Georgetown already has seven different goal scorers, including three different scorers against Pitt.
Defense. What makes Georgetown’s disappointing defensive performances even more confounding is the fact that they roster one of the best goalies and defenders in the conference. The Hoyas have allowed 11 goals on the year, which ranks last in the conference.
Three things to watch
1. Develop the midfield play. One of the reasons Maryland has been unable to produce goals is because its midfield has largely vanished. While sophomore Albi Ndrenika remains unavailable, the Terps still boast plenty of talent at the position. Alex Nitzl and Leon Koehl have shown flashes, but their performances just haven’t been enough. It will be imperative for the midfield to become more assertive and supportive to the team’s forwards as the season wanes on.
2. Need to start strong. Although head coach Sasho Cirovski has continued to harp on this, the Terps have struggled in first halves. Against Virginia, they were sluggish, failing to effectively transition the ball up the field and making lazy passes down the sideline. If Maryland wants to emerge victorious Friday, it will need to play a full 90 minutes of dynamic soccer.
3. Roster moves. Cirvoski has been quite liberal in the number of players he chooses to give playing time. Soon, though, we could see this number lessen as he evaluates the best possible lineup in what is a crucial stretch of the season. The question is: who will continue to see time, and who might find themself on the bench?