Following back-to-back wins over ranked opponents, No. 22 Maryland men’s soccer takes to the road to face Ohio State Friday night.
Head coach Sasho Cirovski and the Terps have maintained a 7-1-0 record over the Buckeyes over the eight games the two programs have faced off, including a 4-1-0 record since the joining the Big Ten in 2014.
Maryland also thrashed Ohio State the last time they met, as Cirovski’s squad scored a season-high five goals in a 5-0 win over the Buckeyes in College Park.
“They’ve turned their team over quite a bit and so have we, so I think it’s a totally different approach,” Cirovski said. “The most important thing for us right now is to focus on our performance and keep doing some of things we’ve done well.”
Ohio State Buckeyes (6-7-1, 1-3-1 Big Ten)
Head coach Brian Maisonneuve brought a decorated resumé to Columbus when he signed on to become the Buckeyes’ head coach in 2018, doing so after stints with the U.S. Men’s National Team and Columbus Crew — as well as serving as an associate head coach at Indiana.
But it hasn’t necessarily translated to the pitch yet for Ohio State, as the team has a combined record of 7-22-3 since Maisonneuve took over. His team has shown improvement in year two, but still has an uphill climb toward re-establishing the Buckeyes as a dominant soccer program.
Players to Know
Senior midfielder Jack Holland (No. 19) currently leads the Buckeyes in points this season, doing so off of four goals and seven assists. He’s also proven to be capable with the ball at his feet in clutch moments, scoring an overtime-winner against Bowling Green, while dishing two match-winning assists.
Redshirt sophomore forward Devyn Etling (No. 9) leads the team in goals scored, notching five this season in only 12 matches. Etling and Holland combine to form most of the Buckeye offense, as the two have contributed over half of the team’s goals for the season.
Redshirt senior midfielder Jake Scheper (No. 23), who Maisonneuve coaxed away from DePaul prior to the 2019 season, has been an important asset to Ohio State’s midfield line since his arrival. After leading the team in points in a pitiful 2018 season in which the Buckeyes finished 1-15-2, Scheper now has the help he needs in Holland and Etling to make themselves a formidable offensive opponent.
Staying disciplined. Maisonneuve appears to have made it an emphasis for his team to clean up its defending play around the ball this season, with such being reflected in their average number of fouls per match. Committing just 12.43 per contest, Ohio State ranks 4th in the conference in that category.
Generating shots. Though improved from its marks from the season before, the Buckeye offense has yet to look like a finished product so far this season. As of Oct. 24, it ranks 115th in Division I and 7th in the Big Ten in shots per game, averaging only 11.79 shots per contest.
Three Things to Know
1. Johannes Bergmann has come on as of late. Though the German defender has been solid all season, Bergmann is coming off one of his best weeks of play of his career entering this match. A pair of goals against Indiana and Yale earned him Big Ten Co-Offensive Player of the Week, while his tactically sound play on the back line earned him Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week as well.
“He’s a great person, he’s a great competitor and he’s improved every year here,” Cirovski said. “That’s what makes me happy as a program, to have someone of his quality come here and keep getting better and better and add different dimensions to his game.”
2. Will the offense continue to thrive? After unfamiliarity fueled a slow offensive start to the season, the Terps have looked more and more connected in their attack as the season has worn on. Notching three goals against a defensively-stout Indiana club last week, Maryland’s offensive pieces have finally had to the time to learn each others tendencies, and it’s showing as of late.
“I think we’re just getting more creative going forward to be honest,” sophomore forward Justin Gielen said. “We’re creating more opportunities and getting more quality chances and shots, and just having the ball in their area of the 18 for longer bouts of possession.”
3. Can Maryland finally win a road game? Although sitting four games over .500 so far this season, the Terps have yet to win a match away from Ludwig Field. Granted only four of their 14 games played this season have been away from home, improving their play away from College Park will be important come postseason play.
“We love protecting Ludwig, but we gotta win games away from home,” junior defender Ben Di Rosa said. “We know as the season goes on, away games are really important and you’ve gotta be able to go into a tough environment and get a result.”