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Maryland men’s soccer vs. Ohio State preview

The Terps visit Columbus for the first time since winning the 2015 Big Ten Tournament.

maryland men's soccer Gabe Fernandez / Testudo Times

The Maryland men’s soccer team outlasted Connecticut, 3-2, on Monday, capping of its third game in a seven-day span. The Terps will return to Big Ten play Friday night Ohio State in their second-to-last regular season road game this season.

The Terps put together back-to-back games with at least three goals for the first time this season after wins against Northwestern and Connecticut. An increased focus on precision in the attacking third has led to 21 of Maryland’s last 28 shots being put on goal.

Ohio State has been atop the Big Ten standings for most of the season, but are coming off a 5-1 loss against Michigan State. The Buckeyes had allowed just five goals all season heading into that match.

Forwards Gordon Wild and Sebastian Elney each scored first-half goals en route to a 2-0 Maryland win over Ohio State last season in College Park. In the meeting prior, the Terps beat the Buckeyes to claim the 2015 Big Ten Tournament title.

The match is scheduled to kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET. There won’t be a stream without a subscription, but WMUC Sports will be broadcasting the game here.

Ohio State Buckeyes (7-2-1, 3-1-0 Big Ten)

2016 record: 5-13-1, 3-4-1 Big Ten

Head coach John Bluem. In his 21st season as head coach, Bluem has won four Big Ten titles and helped clinch all 10 of Ohio State’s NCAA Tournament appearances. He’s the most winningest coach with over 200 wins just in his Buckeyes career.

Players to know

Junior midfielder Abdi Mohamed, No. 26. In just 10 games, he’s surpassed his shot totals from both his freshman and sophomore seasons. Mohamed leads the team with three goals and four assists, showing an ability to both facilitate and score. He received Second Team All-Big Ten honors last season, and notched a spot on the 2017 preseason watch list.

Senior defender Kevin Blackwood, No. 2. After transferring from Cleveland State, Blackwood now has three assists as a member of Ohio State’s backline. He’s played the second-most minutes on the team this season, averaging 89 minutes per game. Blackwood has one goal and two assists last season with the Vikings.

Strength

Defense at home. The Buckeyes are 5-1-1 in Columbus this season, allowing just five goals at home this season. All five of their home wins are clean sheets. The Terps will be the toughest team Ohio State will host this season, but the Buckeyes have shown it can keep a handful of visiting teams scoreless in Columbus. Ohio State allowed five goals in its last match, so that could mean the defense is opening up a little bit after a hot start.

Weakness

Inability to control scoring chances. Despite being in-and-out of the United Soccer Coaches’ rankings this season, Ohio State has consistently given up as many shots as they take, recording and conceding 11 shots per game. Unlike other top Big Ten teams like Indiana, Michigan State and Maryland, the Buckeyes don’t control the majority of scoring chances. Another important note, the only ranked team they’ve faced this season is Michigan State, a 5-1 loss.

Three things to watch

  1. Can the Maryland offense stay hot? The Terps have scored three goals in back-to-back matches, including three first-half goals. As mentioned, Ohio State doesn’t dominate teams offensively. The only team that has outshot Maryland this season has been Indiana, and the Terps have been dominating shot totals for most of the season. The chances will be there, so Maryland’s success will depend on if they can finish those chances on the road.
  2. Ohio State just fell out of the top 25. The Buckeyes were the No. 16 team in the country last week, but after a tie at home against Detroit Mercy and a brutal 5-1 loss on the road against Michigan State, Ohio State fell completely out of the top 25. They do, however, still appear as the No. 27 team in the nation. No. 6 Michigan State was the first ranked team the Buckeyes faced this season, and now they’ll have to face No. 3 Maryland.
  3. The Terps had mixed success in their last trips to Columbus. The last time the Terps visited Ohio State in the regular season in 2015, Maryland lost 1-0. But Columbus hosted the Big Ten Tournament that year, too, a weekend the Terps found much more success in. Maryland tied Indiana, 1-1, in the semifinals, but advanced on penalty kicks. Later that weekend, Maryland avenged its loss to the Buckeyes, beating them 2-0 to claim a second straight Big Ten title. Eryk Williamson had both a goal and an assist in the championship.