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Maryland men’s soccer vs. Connecticut preview: Terps are back on the road

The Terps and Huskies will meet up for the first time since 2010.

maryland men's soccer Gabe Fernandez | Testudo Times

The No. 3 Maryland men’s soccer team cruised to a 3-0 win against Northwestern on Friday night, using 11 substitutes throughout the match. The rest given to starters bodes well for the Terps, who have a quick turnaround on the road Monday night against Connecticut for their third game in seven days.

The Huskies were ranked to start the season, but quickly fell out after losing two of their first three games. Since then, though, Connecticut hasn’t lost in its last six matches.

The Terps are 4-1 against the Huskies under head coach Sasho Cirovski, including a 1-0 win in the last meeting in 2010. All-American Terp Patrick Mullins scored the lone goal in the victory.

The match is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. ET and will be streamed live here.

Connecticut Huskies (5-2-2, 2-0 American)

2016 record: 11-7-1, 3-3-1 AAC

Head coach Ray Reid. After the 2016 season, Reid held the second-highest active win percentage in NCAA men’s soccer (.752). Now entering his 21st year as head coach, he won a National Championship in 2000 and is a four-time National Coach of the Year recipient.

Players to know

Junior forward Abdou Mbacke Thiam, No. 11. He’s one of Connecticut’s most consistent scorers in recent history. After scoring 21 goals in his first two seasons, Thiam has six goals already this season, which is tied for the most in the AAC.

Redshirt senior goalkeeper Scott Levene, No. 24. He’s started every game in each of the last two seasons, posting 13 shutouts during this span. Levene has recorded a clean sheet in all five Connecticut wins this season, and has only allowed five goals in nine matches this season.

Strength

Recent hot streak. This game will kick off on Oct. 2; Connecticut hasn’t lost since Sept. 2 against then-No. 9 Notre Dame. The Huskies have since rattled off four wins and two ties, including a draw against No. 19 Georgetown at home. The defense has also kept opponents off the board for the past three games and hasn’t given up more than two goals in a game this season.

Weakness

Scoring options. The Huskies have just nine goals in nine games this season and six of them have been scored by Thiam. Only two other players have found the net this season; eight different players have scored for the Terps in 2017. The Huskies have only played in one game this season separated by more than one goal. Four of their five wins are 1-0, but if they’re going to beat the Terps, they’ll probably have to score multiple goals. That’s not an easy task; they rank 149th in the country in scoring offense.

Three things to watch

  1. Sasho Cirvoski started his head coaching career in the state of Connecticut. Cirovski coached at Hartford in 1991 and 1992, finishing first in the conference both seasons and made two trips to the NCAA Tournament. Hartford is just about 30 minutes from Storrs, and like Cirovski said Friday, he’s familiar with the soccer community in Connecticut. The Huskies consistently finish in the top five in average attendance totals in each season.
  2. Can the Terps replicate offensive success against the Huskies? After Cirovski challenged his players to have more precision in the attacking third, 13 of Maryland’s 17 shots were on goal Friday night against Northwestern. The Wildcats did have the 177th-ranked defense, so at the very least, it gave the Terps confidence they can find more success on the attack. The Huskies have a much better defense than Northwestern, allowing just five goals this season.
  3. It’s another quick turnaround. Fatigue was a concern heading into Friday’s game after just two days of rest following the UMBC match. The Terps will now have the same amount of time to prepare for a road Monday night game. Maryland did empty its bench, playing 11 substitutes against Northwestern, so it was good for the Terps that all the starters didn’t have to play a long, competitive game.