Maryland men’s soccer won the Big Ten Championship for the third straight season, topping Wisconsin 2-1 Sunday afternoon at Grand Park in Westfield, Indiana. Including their last two ACC crowns, this is the Terps’ fifth straight conference championship.
All three of the game’s goals came before halftime, with Maryland’s Sebastian Elney knocking in the go-ahead goal in the 43rd minute. The Terps were able to largely shut down Wisconsin all game, and held tight in the second half to preserve their one-goal lead.
D.J. Reeves finished off a great move to give the Terps the lead in the second minute for his third goal of the season. Suli Dainkeh’s lofted through ball was taken down by Reeves beautifully as he hugged the endline, shimmied past a defender and Badgers goalkeeper Philip Schilling, and side-footed the ball into the empty net.
Reeves, the frequent super-sub, made his first career start for Maryland alongside Wild in attack. This is the second straight game that head coach Sasho Cirovski has not started Elney. Eryk Williamson started in his place in Friday’s semifinal.
Junior forward Tom Barlow knotted things up at one for Wisconsin 10 minutes later. Barlow combined with Christopher Mueller, outpacing Maryland’s defenders for a one-on-one opportunity against Cody Niedermeier. The Terps’ goalie came out to smother the chance but Barlow calmly shot the ball into the bottom left corner.
Elney headed in a deflected cross to put the Terps up 2-1 two minutes before halftime. However, the ball looked to have gone off Wisconsin defender Sam Brotherton on its way to the far post.
Both teams had six shots at the half, but Maryland held a 7-1 advantage on corners.
Niedermeier came up huge for Maryland and preserved the scoreline with a point-blank save off Barlow’s header in the 65th minute.
The Big Ten goalkeeper of the year finished the game with seven saves.
The wind played a major role in both semifinals at this venue. The team with the gust at its back had a much easier time running up the shot count. Eleven of Michigan State’s 15 shots came after halftime in the Terps’ semifinal victory. Similarly, Indiana collected a 9-2 shot lead over Wisconsin in the first half and led the Badgers 5-0 on corners in the Hoosiers’ semifinal win. The championship game ended with Maryland outshooting Wisconsin, 13-11.
The Terps still have not lost since Ohio State defeated them last October in Columbus — a run of 25 matches. In last year’s tourney final, Maryland beat the top-seeded Ohio State thanks to goals from Tsubasa Endoh and Eryk Williamson. The team’s winning streak is now at 15, a program record
Maryland now awaits its opponent in the second round of the NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship. The Terps will undoubtedly head into the tournament as the No. 1 seed after completing an undefeated season, winning their 33rd league championship and securing their ninth tournament crown in program history.
The first round of the championship begins on November 17th, and the seeds will be announced on Monday.