Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect Denver falling from No. 3 to No. 7 in the Coaches Poll and Indiana moving from No. 4 to No. 2.
The Maryland men’s soccer team (4-5-3) has had a brutal schedule this season, and as the regular season winds down, it isn’t getting any easier.
On Friday against then-No. 4 (now up to No. 2) Indiana, the Terrapins held their weight with the national championship contender for the first 89 minutes and 42 seconds of the match, before Andrew Gutman ripped their hearts out. Tied 1-1 into the final moments of regulation, the senior defender scored his second goal of the match with just 18 seconds remaining to stun the Terps and avoid overtime.
Despite such a demoralizing defeat, Maryland showed that it can hang around with the best teams in the nation given the chance. And luckily for the Terrapins, they won’t have to wait long for another opportunity.
On Tuesday night, they’ll host the No. 7-ranked Denver Pioneers, who were ranked No. 3 last week but are fresh off their first loss of the season. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and can be seen on BTN Plus.
No. 7 Denver Pioneers (10-1-2, 2-0-1 Summit)
2017 record: 11-6-2 (5-0)
Head coach Jamie Franks is his fourth season as the head coach with the Pioneers, having made the NCAA Tournament in his first two seasons before taking a step back in 2017. A former standout player for the Wake Forest Deamon Deacons, Franks has five years under his belt as an assistant coach: two at Wake Forest, and three with Denver.
Players to know
Senior forward Andre Shinyashiki, No. 9. As the 2017 Summit League Offensive Player of the Year, Shinyashiki finished with nine goals and four assists to lead the Pioneers. However, his 2018 campaign has been completely off the charts. So far this season across 13 games, Shinyashiki has 21 goals, with the next-highest scoring output in the country being 14 goals.
Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper Will Palmquist, No. 30. He began the year backing up redshirt senior Nick Gardner, but Palmquist has now taken over in goal as the regular season is nearing its end. In four games and three starts this year, he has posted a 0.92 goals against average and a .786 save percentage, going 2-1 as a starter with two clean sheets.
Scoring offense. Having Shinyashiki and his 21 goals certainly helps matters, but the Pioneers attack is filled with goal-scoring options. Seven different players have scored thus far, and the team has averaged 2.15 goals per game this season. That leads the Summit League, and it puts Denver as the T-14th highest scoring offense in the nation.
Defensive discipline. As a team, the Pioneers average 12.85 fouls per match, which is slightly above average compared to the rest of the country. However, Denver has accumulated 27 yellow cards so far this season, an average of over two per contest. That places them T-13th-most of all teams, and if they aren’t careful, the Pioneers could lose a player throughout the course of the game.
Three things to watch
1. Can Maryland bounce back? It’s been an up-and-down season so far for Maryland, which is reflected in its record. Last time out against No. 4 Indiana, the Terrapins matched the powerhouse’s high level of play for 89-plus minutes before allowing a heart-breaking, 90th-minute goal to lose before seeing overtime. That type of loss has the ability to weigh on a team, but with just four regular season matches remaining, the Terps need to shake off the defeat and move on.
2. Will Andre Shinyashiki be contained? The nation’s leading goal-scorer has had an incredible season thus far, but he hasn’t been able to take over each and every match. Shinyashiki has been held scoreless four times this year, and unsurprisingly, the Pioneers are just 1-1-2 in those contests. The key to beating Denver is keeping the senior off the box score, but that’s much easier said than done.
3. How does Denver respond? For the first time in 2018, the Pioneers lost a match their last time out. On the road against No. 14 Virginia, Denver fell 3-0 to the Cavaliers. A tough opponent has a lot to do with it, especially on the road, but the Pioneers failed to show up at all in the top-25 matchup. Following a rare defeat, it wouldn’t be shocking to see Denver come out guns blazing early against the Terps.