After a 3-1 drubbing of then-No. 18 Coastal Carolina Sunday, Maryland men’s soccer is over .500 for the first time this season.
With the score tied 1-1 in the 78th minute, Justin Gielen scored his first career goal to give the Terps the lead. And just over two minutes later, Sebastian Elney, one of the senior leaders on this squad, scored a crucial insurance goal to clinch the victory.
The Terrapins now boast a 4-3-2 record, which is a stark contrast from their 0-2-2 mark to begin the 2018 campaign. Winners of four of their last five matches, they have momentum on their side as the second half of the season is fully underway.
Having won two consecutive matches on the road, Maryland will return home for one before leaving College Park again to face Georgetown and Indiana.
On Friday, the Terps will face their biggest challenge yet, as No. 13-ranked Michigan State will enter Ludwig Field hoping to bounce back after its overtime loss to Wisconsin on Sunday. Before that defeat, the Spartans were ranked No. 5 in the nation.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET and can be seen on the Big Ten Network.
No. 13 Michigan State Spartans (8-1-2, 2-1 Big Ten)
2017 record: 13-4-4 (5-0-3 Big Ten)
Head coach Damon Rensing is in his 10th season in charge of the Spartans, but he’s been a part of Michigan State’s program for 25 years now. Since being given the keys to the castle, Rensing has compiled a 111-62-28 record, and he’s established the Spartans as a perennial contender. Under his leadership, Michigan State has made seven NCAA Tournament appearances, most recently reaching the Elite Eight in 2017.
Players to know
Senior forward Ryan Sierakowski, No. 11. Now in his fourth year with the program, Sierakowski has started in all 70 games he has appeared in since arriving in East Lansing. Through 11 games this season, he leads the team with 14 points, having a balanced stat line of five goals and four assists thus far. Across his previous three seasons, Sierakowski averaged 8.3 goals and 3.66 assists.
Redshirt senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague, No. 1. Last season’s Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year, Hague finished his junior campaign with an incredible 0.62 goals-against average, and he also had 11 shutouts in 20 matches. Through 11 matches this season, Hague has matched last year’s production, as he currently ranks No. 17 in the nation with a 0.62 goals-against average.
Scoring. Michigan State’s attack can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the country. The Spartans have averaged 2.00 goals per game so far this season, which ranks in the top 20 nationally. Led by Sierakowski and fellow senior DeJuan Jones, they can score in a flash. Against UC Riverside in early September, Michigan State scored five goals in a dominating victory.
Shooting. There aren’t many things this Michigan State team does poorly, and in fact, they rank in the top 50 in nearly every statistical category imaginable. However, if there is one thing that the Spartans can improve on, it’s getting more shots off. They currently average just 12.45 shots per game, which ranks No. 85 in the nation and fourth in the conference.
Three things to watch
1. Can Maryland keep it rolling? The Terrapins have won four of their last five matches, and had they not collapsed late against Wisconsin, they could very well be looking at a five-match winning streak. After scoring a season-high three goals against Coastal Carolina, the offense is playing its best soccer so far this year. A match against a national championship contender could change things, but at least for now, Maryland has momentum on its side.
2. Does Michigan State bounce back? The Spartans were ranked in the top five for nearly the entire season, but an overtime loss at home to Wisconsin has knocked them down to No. 13. Nevertheless, Michigan State is one of the most talented squads in the nation, and failing to show up in consecutive matches seems like a statistical improbability.
3. Will William James Herve have another memorable moment? The freshman was given an important role in the attack from the minute he walked on campus, and as the season has progressed, he’s become the leading scorer for the Terrapins. With three goals on just 12 shots, not only does Herve have the highest offensive output of anyone on the team, he has also been the most efficient forward. Against a top team at home, the stage is set for the freshman to have another signature moment.