Just one week after defeating No. 15 UCLA in overtime for the second time in three years, the Maryland men’s soccer team is set to square off against an even tougher opponent Friday night in its Big Ten opener.
While the hype of the 2016 season surrounded the Terps’ undefeated record, the Indiana Hoosiers were hiding in the shadows with their own undefeated streak in conference play. The only blemish on their record prior to the postseason was a loss to No. 1 Notre Dame.
Since Maryland’s arrival to the Big Ten, the two programs have developed respect for other in the midst of creating quite the rivalry.
The Terps beat the Hoosiers in the 2014 Big Ten championship and then bested them again the following year. After a regular season draw, Maryland advanced past Indiana on penalty kicks in the Big Ten semifinals. Last year in Bloomington, the two played to a second straight regular season tie.
Indiana (4-0) comes back to College Park Friday night ranked No. 4 in the country, while Maryland (4-0) moved up one spot to No. 5 in the Coaches Poll. Maryland played 17 different players in Monday night’s win over Cal Poly in anticipation for this game.
“We know Indiana’s a great team. We respect them a lot and it’s a big test,” junior forward DJ Reeves said Monday after the win. “[It’s] our first Big Ten game [against] one of the best teams in the country. We certainly won’t take that game lightly.”
While many teams try to improve a little bit each game in the early stages of the season, Maryland is not like “many teams.” Head coach Sasho Cirovski said Friday’s game is not about improvement, but proving themselves as a team.
“Indiana will bring the best out of us and I’m sure we’ll bring the best out of them,” he said. “I think it’s going to be one heck of a game.”
The match is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. ET and will be televised on the Big Ten Network, streamed on BTN2Go here and broadcast by WMUC Sports here.
Indiana Hoosiers (4-0)
2016 Record: 12-2-7, 3-0-5 Big Ten
Head coach Todd Yeagley. The four-time All-American soccer player returns to his alma mater for his seventh year as the head coach at Indiana. After being promoted from an assistant in 2009, Yeagley led the Hoosiers to their eighth NCAA Championship in program history, beating four ranked teams during the tournament.
Players to know
Redshirt junior midfielder Trevor Swartz, No. 7. After sitting out his sophomore year, Swartz scored five goals with three assists in 2016, including two game-winning goals. He’s scored two goals already this season, but both were on penalty kicks.
Senior defender Grant Lillard, No. 5. As a member of the Hoosiers backline, Lillard helped Indiana record 11 shutouts last year, including an 0.76 goals-against average. He returns as a senior leader, already tallying an assist against Cal Poly. He was also named the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List.
Most things, but especially defense. Like most ranked teams, the Hoosiers can control the pace of the game and score. But the reason they’re No. 4 in the country is because of their ability to defend. They allowed just 16 goals in 21 games in 2016, and have allowed just one goal this season through four games. That’s even with a true freshman goalkeeper.
Your guess is as good as mine. It’s early, but Indiana has the seventh-most goals in the country and have conceded the 11th-fewest. The biggest note that can turn into a weakness is that the Hoosiers have yet to leave their state so far this season. They played two games in South Bend for a tournament to start the season before playing another pair of games in Bloomington. Ludwig Field is probably not the easiest place to travel for your first game of the season out of the state.
Three things to watch
- The last two regular season meetings have been draws. It was a 0-0 tie two years ago in College Park and a 1-1 tie last year in Bloomington between Maryland and Indiana. For the third year in a row, don’t anticipate a high-scoring affair. The Terps are 2-3-5 all-time against the Hoosiers.
- It’s Dayne St. Clair’s time to shine. The redshirt sophomore goalkeeper has had to make just eight saves through four games this season. The Terps’ defense has conceded just 24 shots, so St. Clair hasn’t been tested too heavily just yet. Now that it’s Big Ten play and a game against a top-five team in the country, it’s time to see life without Cody Niedermeier in goal.
- The Terps haven’t won or lost a Big Ten opener. In their three seasons in the new conference, they’ve tied all three of their Big Ten openers. Maryland and Michigan played to a pair of draws in 2014 and 2015, and then the Terps and Hoosiers opened up their conference schedule with a draw last season in Bloomington.