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Maryland men’s soccer vs. Santa Clara preview: Terps start season in California

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It’s the Terps’ first game against the Broncos since 2014.

Matthew Regan

The No. 6-ranked Maryland men’s soccer team will start its 2017 campaign on the road against Santa Clara, opening the season in California for the second time in the last three years.

The Terps return nearly all of their offensive production from 2016, but will feature a new goalkeeper and a reinvented backline. The first glimpse of Sasho Cirovski’s reloaded team will be Friday at 10:30 p.m. ET against the Broncos.

The last meeting between these two teams was in 2014, when the Terps won 3-1 in College Park. You can stream Friday’s match here.

Santa Clara Broncos

2016 record: 5-10-1, 0-6-1 WCC

Head coach Cameron Rast. The former Santa Clara All-American graduated in 1991 before being hired as an assistant three seasons later. He has been the head coach since 2002, leading the Broncos to seven NCAA Tournaments and five West Coast Conference titles.

Players to know

Senior forward Carlos Delgadillo, No. 28. Only four players combined for Santa Clara’s 10 goals last season and Delgadillo scored four of them, two of which were game-winning strikes. He led the conference with 10 goals in 2015, earning him First Team All-WCC honors.

Junior goalkeeper Dakota Havlick, No. 1. As a sophomore, Havlick started in 14 of the Broncos’ 16 games, allowing just 14 goals. He had the third-lowest goals against average in the WCC, conceding 1.02 goals per game.

Strength

Defense. While the Broncos only won five games last season, it wasn’t because they allowed a ton of goals. They conceded just over one goal per game, and didn’t allow more than two goals in a contest until their last game of the season in an overtime loss. They return several defenders, including a veteran center back in junior Brandon Gillingham. Despite it being Santa Clara’s strength in 2016, the Terps scored the second-most goals in the country last season.

Weakness

Goal scoring. The reason the Broncos only won five games last season was their inability to put the ball in the net. In 16 games, they only scored 10 times and didn’t score more than two goals in a game all season. Maryland forward Gordon Wild scored 17 goals himself in 2016. With three defenders and a goalkeeper graduating after last season for Maryland, this weakness provides a good real-game situation for the new backline to build chemistry and familiarity with one another.

Three things to watch

  1. What will the starting backline look like for Maryland? Alex Crognale, Suli Dankeh and Chris Odoi-Atsem all graduated after the 2016 season, leaving Andrew Samuels as the lone returning starting defender for the Terps. Sophomores Donovan Pines and Miles Stray both saw time on defense last season, while senior midfielder Jake Rozhanksky also has the ability to step into a defensive role. UCLA transfer Chase Gasper played 20 games on defense for the Bruins in 2015 before redshirting last season due to an injury.
  2. Will any freshmen see significant playing time? The Terps only lost one offensive starter after last season and while the defense lost three and a goalkeeper, there are plenty of potential replacements coming back from last year’s roster. Freshman forward Eric Matzelevich scored twice in the exhibition against American, but didn’t start against No. 8 Syracuse. No freshmen started in the Terps’ final scrimmage of the summer. Two freshman goalkeepers join the 2017 team, but redshirt sophomore Dayne St. Clair will likely get the first opportunity to start.
  3. How fast will the Terps come out of the gates? While the team would probably say that last season’s second round NCAA Tournament exit is in the past, the six returning starters will probably use that disappointment toward motivation this season. After an undefeated regular season and a third straight Big Ten title preceded a short-lived tournament run, look for the Terps to come out hungry to start 2017.