After dropping the last four games of the regular season, the No. 24 Maryland men’s soccer team begins postseason play this weekend. The Terps will be in search of their fourth consecutive Big Ten championship, but have their lowest seed in the tournament since joining the conference.
Maryland welcomes fifth-seeded Wisconsin to College Park on Sunday, a rematch of the highest-scoring match the Terps played in all season. On Oct. 13, Maryland defeated the Badgers, 5-4, behind a second-half hat trick from midfielder Eryk Williamson.
The Terps knocked off the Badgers in last season’s Big Ten Championship, 2-1, which will add another interesting storyline this weekend in College Park.
The game is scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. ET and will be streamed on BTN+.
Wisconsin Badgers (8-4-4, 4-3-1 Big Ten)
#5 Seed in B1G Tournament
Players to watch
Senior forward Chris Mueller, No. 10. He was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year Friday, in addition to the conference’s First Team. His nine goals and 13 assists in the regular season were both team high’s, combining for a total of 29 points. Against Maryland, Mueller had one goal and one assist with seven shots.
Redshirt senior goalkeeper Phillip Schilling, No. 30. The senior has held opponents scoreless in the his last two games, but conceded five goals against the Terps earlier this season. The weather is not going to be the same downpour the two teams played in Madison, but it’ll be interesting to see if Schilling can keep the ball out of the net this time around.
Scoring offense. The Badgers averaged two goals per game during the regular season, including four against the Terps. Wisconsin has the 18th-best scoring offense in the country, compared to Maryland’s rank of 44th. The Badgers also have the conference’s Offensive Player of the Year in their arsenal in Mueller. His 1.93 points per game ranks sixth in the country and tops in the Big Ten.
Playing away from home. Wisconsin went 6-1-1 at home, but 2-3-3 away from Madison. The Badgers lost to the Terps in overtime when they came to College Park last season, thanks to an Eryk Williamson 98th-minute game-winner. While the Badgers have a losing record on the road, Maryland has dropped its last four games of the season, all of which came at Ludwig Field.
Three things to watch
- Four Terps won regular season awards. The Big Ten announced its regular season award-winners Friday afternoon, and four Terps were included. Midfielder Eryk Williamson was named the Midfielder of the Year, in addition to being an All-Big Ten first team recipient. Midfielder Jake Rozhansky was also named to the first team, while defender Donovan Pines was named to the second team. Midfielder Andrew Samuels was the sportsmanship award recipient for the Terps.
- What should we expect from Maryland? In the span of two weeks, the Terps dropped from No. 3 to No. 24 in the United Soccer Coaches poll. The team would need to be in the top 16 to receive a first-round bye in the NCAA Tournament, so it’ll likely need to win the conference tournament to receive that luxury again. The Terps struggled to score down the stretch, with just one goal in their last four matches. Now would be the time for a spark from forward Gordon Wild, who has not scored since Sept. 12. His five goals in the regular season is a big surprise after scoring 17 just a season ago.
- Will two vital pieces return to the defense? Chase Gasper missed the last four games of the regular season with a groin injury, while Donovan Pines missed the last two with a concussion. Gasper did stretch with the team last weekend against Michigan, which might indicate he could be back Sunday. While the defense wasn’t the primary issue in Maryland’s last four games, it surely wasn’t the same without a senior in Gasper and an all-conference second team recipient in Pines.