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Maryland men’s soccer vs. Washington preview

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The Terps open their 2018 season on the West Coast.

eli crognale Gabe Fernandez/Testudo Times

For the first time since 2001, Maryland men’s soccer is unranked to open up the season. But for the third year in a row, the Terrapins will begin the season a long way from home, travelling to the West Coast to take on Washington.

The Terps’ new-look attack will be on full display right out of the gates on Friday at 11 p.m. ET against the Huskies, who have made two consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances. The last matchup between these two teams saw Maryland come out on top, winning 1-0 at Ludwig Field in 2015. Friday’s game will be streamed on the Pac-12 Network.

No. 24 Washington Huskies

2017 record: 12-7-1 (5-4-1 Pac-12)

Head coach Jamie Clark is entering his eighth season at the helm for the Huskies. His career record of 87-35-19 shows how well he has built this program, and Washington has made five tournament berths under him. A former All-American at Stanford, Clark had been the head coach at Harvard and Creighton before coming to Seattle.

Players to know

Sophomore forward Blake Bodily, No. 98. Named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2017, Bodily had a debut season to remember. He scored just three goals, but thanks to his passing, Bodily was able to place ninth in the conference with 14 points. With experience in the USL and with the US U-17 National Team, Bodily is looking to take a big step forward in his second season in Washington.

Redshirt senior forward Kyle Coffee, No. 10. The leader of this Huskies team, Coffee was able to overcome an early-season injury to electrify the offense in his 14 games played. Scoring six goals and tallying 12 points, he had his best season yet in 2017 despite the limited playing time. He was one of the lone bright spots in the team’s NCAA Tournament loss to Seattle, kicking off the scoring with a goal.

Redshirt junior goalkeeper Saif Kerawala, No. 1. Named to the 2017 All-Pac-12 second team, Kerawala finished the year with a 1.15 goals-against average and seven shutouts, both of which were good for second in the conference. Between Oct. 19 and Nov. 9, Kerawala had a scoreless streak of 288:42.

Strength

Offense. The Huskies possessed one of the best attacks in the country last season, scoring 2.00 goals per game. That figure was good for second in the conference, only behind defending national champion Stanford, as well as 17th in the nation. Washington’s passing was elite as well, as its 5.70 points per game placed in the top-20.

Weakness

Defensive discipline. If there was one thing the Huskies did poorly in 2017, it was fouling opponents. They were second in the conference with 231 fouls and 11.5 fouls per game, the latter of which was worthy of 88th in the country. The team also paced the conference in yellow cards with 36 issued.

Three things to watch

1. How will the Terrapins bounce back? Losing in your first NCAA Tournament game is hard enough, and doing so two years in a row can be demoralizing. After being shut out and losing in penalties to Albany, there could be lasting effects that lead to a slow start. To make matters worse, Jake Rozhansky, Eryk Williamson, and Gordon Wild are all gone. The way this team opens up at Washington will tell a lot about the season to come, especially with a matchup against Stanford quickly approaching.

2. Who runs the offense? After the aforementioned losses, Sebastian Elney is the leading scorer among returning players with 12 points in his 2017 campaign. He’s never been tasked with being a featured scorer on this team, and only time will tell if he’s able to. Eric Matzelevich has just one career start, but he’s expected to be a focal point of the attack. The offense is without a leader, and someone will have to take the reins.

3. Will Dayne St. Clair take his game to the next level? In his first season as the starting goalkeeper, St. Clair managed to keep the Terrapins in games they otherwise wouldn’t be with their subpar attack. There’s a lot of uncertainty in the offense right now, and St. Clair might need to be even better this season to keep Maryland relevant.