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Maryland men’s soccer vs. West Virginia preview

The Terps once again look to snap their scoreless streak.

maryland men’s soccer dj reeves Gabe Fernandez / Testudo Times

It might be time to panic for the Maryland men’s soccer team. To kick off the 2018 season, the Terrapins have two losses and two draws across 400 minutes of soccer, and they have failed to score a single goal in the first four games. Last time out against UCLA, they seemed lost on offense and fell 1-0 to the Bruins.

“The result is disappointing and the performance is as well,” said head coach Sasho Cirovski. “We have to look what we change: our formation slightly, or whether we change our personnel a little. But I just told my players I believe in them. We played four really good teams.”

Maryland’s 0-2-2 record is not truly representative of how this team has played so far. The back line has been tremendous since halftime of the season opener against Washington, allowing just one goal in over three and a half games. And Dayne St. Clair is starting to establish himself as one of the better goalkeepers in the country.

But you can’t win a game without scoring a goal, and that’s the situation that the Terps currently find themselves in. It may only be a matter of time before they score their first goal, but how many losses can they handle before that happens?

Monday’s game is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. ET and can be seen on BTN Plus.

West Virginia Mountaineers (2-2-0)

2017 record: 9-6-4 (1-2-2 MAC)

Head coach Marlon LeBlanc is in the midst of his 13th season with the Mountaineers, compiling a 116-86-32 in his time in Morgantown. Despite being ranked at some point in 11 of the past 12 years, the Mountaineers have made just four NCAA Tournament appearances. But they have won at least one tournament game in each of those seasons, showing that they know how to win on the big stage.

Players to know

Redshirt senior midfielder Joey Piatczyc, No. 15. Now in his fifth season in Morgantown, Piatczyc knows West Virginia soccer and has put together quite the resume. Despite missing the entirety of last season with a knee injury that caused him to take a redshirt, Piatczyc entered 2018 tied for second in program history with 25 career assists. And after registering four assists in the first four games of this season, Piatczyc is now the sole leader in career assists in the history of West Virginia soccer.

Sophomore goalkeeper Steven Tekesky, No. 18. As a freshman last season, Tekesky saw a ton of playing time, which is rather unusual for a program such as West Virginia’s. It seems as though that live experience has helped, because the sophomore is off to a blistering start in 2018. Across 353 minutes this season, he has allowed just three goals while making 21 saves, good for a save percentage of .875, which ranks T-30th in the nation.

Strength

Defense. It may be the last thing that Maryland fans want to hear, but the Mountaineers’ defense has been terrific so far this year. As a team, they have allowed just three goals this season, which includes a shutout in their season opener against Charleston. But the back line hasn’t always led to victories—West Virginia has a pair of 1-0 losses so far in 2018.

Weakness

Offensive consistency. Unlike the Terrapins, the Mountaineers have shown the ability to score. They have outputs of five and two goals, which is more than a lot of teams have to say. But West Virginia has looked like two different teams so far this season, and the worse one has had great difficulty finding the back of the net.

Three things to know

1. Can Maryland score? The point has been beaten to death by now, but the Terrapins have yet to score a goal and haven’t shown any real signs of being capable of scoring just yet. Fighting for back-to-back draws was nothing short of miraculous, but as was shown against UCLA on Saturday, allowing a single goal is a death sentence. If the Terps want any shot at competing this season, someone is going to have to get hot on offense.

2. Is fatigue a factor? Due to an impressive amount of torrential weather this weekend in College Park, Maryland’s game against UCLA was moved from Friday to Saturday. That cut the amount of time for rest and recovery nearly in half, and it’s a frightening thought to imagine what a tired Terrapins team looks like.

3. Which West Virginia team shows up? As was mentioned previously, the Mountaineers have two versions of themselves: one can run the doors off their opponents, while the other loses disheartening 1-0 games. The way things have gone for Maryland, West Virginia may be able to avoid a loss regardless of its quality of play, but a win is certainly the focus of the team’s efforts.