As the Maryland men’s soccer team headed into the locker room for halftime in their match against Division II Adelphi Tuesday, the Terrapins found themselves in unfamiliar territory.
Not only were they tied on the scoreboard at zero, but the Terps were outshot in a half, 4-3 by the Panthers, for just the second time all season. However, a more focused Maryland group emerged in the second half. The Terrapins outshot Adelphi 11-0 and used two goals from reserve forward Jake Pace in the 73rd and 74th minutes, respectively, to defeat the Panthers 2-0 in their final non-conference regular season game of the season. The goals were the first of Pace’s career. In helping to pitch Maryland’s seventh shutout of the season, freshman goalkeeper Keith Cardona earned his first career victory.
After a 2-1 loss in Charlottesville last week, Maryland (12-1-1, 3-1-0 ACC) resumes ACC play tonight against the Duke Blue Devils (7-4-1, 3-1-1). Duke has not been defeated in seven straight games, the Blue Devils’ best run since 2006. During that stretch, the Blue Devils are 6-0-1 and have outscored opponents 24-9, the most goals Duke has scored in a seven-game stretch since 2004. The Blue Devils are tied with North Carolina on top of the ACC standings to move into the College Soccer News poll for the first time since August. Duke is ranked No. 24 in the nation.
Tonight’s battle will feature two of the top strikers in the country. Duke’s Andrew Wenger leads the nation in both goals (15) and points (37). During the Blue Devils’ seven-game win streak, Wenger has scored 12 goals to go along with seven assists for 31 points. After a four-goal, one-assist performance in a pair of victories last week, he is was selected as the Disney Soccer/NSCAA, ACC and College Soccer News Men’s National Player of the Week. Wenger was also voted to the Soccer America Team of the Week for the second time this season.
On the other side though, Maryland’s Casey Townsend is not far behind. Townsend has scored 12 goals for a total of 24 points this season, both of which rank second in the conference behind Wenger. However, while Wenger has accounted for 22 of Duke’s 29 goals, the Terps scoring attack is much more balanced. Townsend has accounted for 12 of Maryland’s 34 goals. John Stertzer is second on the Terrapins with nine goals and 21 points while Patrick Mullins has five goals for 12 points this year.
Here are some more notes for tonight’s game:
- This is the 70th matchup between Maryland and Duke. The Terrapins have a 44-22-3 lead in the all-time series, which dates back to 1949. However, both teams have five wins in the last 10 meetings with each other.
- Duke is 1-2-0 against Maryland under head coach John Kerr. The Blue Devils defeated the Terps in 2009 and have not lost consecutive regular season games to Maryland since 2006.
- With a 3-1-1 record in the ACC, Duke is off to its best start in conference play since 2006, which is the last time the Blue Devils captured the ACC title.
- This game features the top two offenses in the ACC. Maryland is averaging 2.43 goals per game to Duke’s 2.42. The Blue Devils’ 29 assists leads the ACC while the Terps are second with 28. Chris Tweed-Kent is tied for first on Duke with seven assists. Andrew Morales leads all ACC freshmen and is tied for 10th nationally with four assists. Sunny Jane leads Maryland with five assists.
- Duke has scored 15 goals against ACC opponents this year, the sixth-most by the Blue Devils in conference play all-time. The 2000 Blue Devils scored 19 goals against ACC foes, the most all-time by a Duke team.
- All four of Duke’s losses this season have come by one goal. The Blue Devils outshot each of their opponents in those games and have outshot all but three of its opponents this season.
- Duke is 5-1-1 in games in which they have scored first. The Blue Devils are 5-0 when leading at the half and 0-2 when trailing and 2-2-1 when tied.
- Duke has outscored their opponents by a 29-17 margin. They have 11 goals in the first half and 18 in the second half. The Blue Devils have scored at least one goal in the first half in six of their seven victories.
- Nick Palodichuk currently is tied for first among freshmen across the country with six goals and 15 points overall, both of which are second on the Blue Devils.
- Duke and Maryland have played two common opponent so far this season. Both teams earned wins over NC State and suffered losses to Virginia.
- The Terrapins are the fifth ranked team the Blue Devils have played this season. Duke is 0-3-1 and has been outscored 7-4 by ranked opponents.
- Maryland is 3-0 against ranked opponents this season. They have outshot ranked teams by a 46-20 margin. The Terps have outscored ranked opponents 14-2 this season. Against unranked teams, their margin is just 18-7.
- Maryland has outshot its opponents 244-122 this season, as well as outscoring them 34-10. The Terps have scored 15 goals in the first half and 17 in the second half, as well as two overtime goals.
- The Terrapins defense is surrendering just 0.71 goals per game, second in the ACC. They have allowed only 39 shots on goal all season. Maryland’s seven shutouts leads the ACC.
- The Terps are 9-0-0 at home this and have allowed just five goals at Ludwig Field. Maryland is averaging 3,808 fans per game.
You can listen to the action live on WMUC Sports at 6:45. Steve Goldstein will be on the call along with Luke Jackson.
There are few teams at any level of collegiate soccer that can lose seven starters, four of whom were named to an All-ACC team last season, and still be ranked No. 4 in the country the very next season. Such is the case though with the Maryland Terrapins, who need to replace players who combined to score 32 of the team’s 61 goals last season (52.5 percent).
The Terps return a mostly young and talented group of players highlighted by All-ACC senior forward Casey Townsend, 2010 ACC Freshman of the Year forward Patrick Mullins and defensive stalwarts Taylor Kemp and Alex Lee. Head coach Sasho Cirovski, entering his 19th season at Maryland, said his program, which has been to five College Cups and won two National Championships in the last nine years, has not lowered the bar with what they expect to achieve this season, even with a much different-looking squad this year compared to the team that bowed out to Michigan in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament last season.
“As usual, we have high expectations for our team this year in spite of losing a lot of talented players, three underclassmen and seven starters, our goal is still the same,” said Cirovski. “We want to win an ACC Championship and we want to win a National Championship.”
The Terps have set the bar for success in the program high, but they certainly have an impressive list of players who played smaller roles last year and will have the opportunity to see increased playing time and responsibility on the pitch in 2011.
“They were big-time players,” Townsend said of the departed Terps. “But I think people are going to be surprised at how good we are because we have a lot of players that haven’t played that are very good players that people just don’t know about.”
Some of those players figure to be midfielders John Stertzer (two goals and two assists in 21 games last season), Kaoru Forbess (three goals in 21 games last season), Helge Leikvang (one goal and one assist in 18 games last season), forward Matt Oduaran (one goal and one assist in 15 games last season) and defender London Woodberry (one goal and three assists in 14 games last season). Cirovski said that two players who redshirted due to injury last season, midfielder Widner Saint Cyr and forward Jordan Cyrus, will also play more prominent roles this season now that they are healthy.
They will be joined by a skilled freshman class that features goalkeeper Jordan Tatum, American U-18 National Team goalie Keith Cardona, Canadian U-17 National Team defender Parker Seymour and three College Soccer News top-35 recruits in defender Kyle Roach (No. 34) and midfielders Dan Metzger (No. 29) and Alex Shinsky (No. 2, No. 1 recruit according toTopDrawerSoccer.com). The incoming freshman class and crop of returning players give Cirovski the most flexibility to mix-and-match in the midfield.
“I think that’s the position we have the greatest depth in,” said Cirovski of the midfield. “I’d say we have seven or eight players capable of starting for the four positions. I think we’re going to have, probably, a lot more rotation in the midfield this year than in years past.”
However, it may be a player who did not play a single minute last year who has the greatest impact on Maryland’s season. Will Swaim started 20 games in goal for Maryland from 2007 through 2009 before redshirting in 2010. Cirovski said he is the frontrunner to start at goalie for the team’s first regular season match on August 26 against St. John’s, a rematch of the double-overtime College Cup semifinal thriller in 2008 (a 1-0 Terps victory). His decision to return to College Park for a fifth year provides Maryland with an experienced keeper who knows the rigors of playing a full season in college soccer’s toughest conference.
“It was a great opportunity to play,” Swaim said. “After partnering with Zac (MacMath) for the past couple years I felt like I learned a lot. It’s also a great opportunity to go to school.”
Cirovski said that while Swaim will split time this season in net with Cardona and Tatum, his biggest concern right now at the position was getting Swaim back up to full speed after redshirting last season.
“I think his (Swaim’s) veteran leadership and knowledge of how we want to play is very important,” Cirovski said. “And Will’s good. Let’s not forget, he was our starting keeper in 2007. He’s a very good goalkeeper. We just want to get his game speed up as quickly as possible.”
Despite the unusually large number of new players who will be stepping into unfamiliar roles that come with a lot of responsibility this season, Cirovski said the team’s leadership, coming from many different sources, and ability to come together as one so far has been very impressive to see.
“All of these kids were here everyday together this summer,” said Cirovski. “I think there is a collective respect among the players that they’ve all given each other permission to lead. It’s a kind of a nice chemistry we have together within the group now.”
That respect and combined leadership should be crucial for a team that could struggle at times as they wait to gel and get in sync with one another. A number of new players in the lineup could lead to some growing pains at times as the players get used to each other’s tendencies on the pitch. However, once they find that chemistry that can only grow with time, the Terps should continue to improve as the season goes along.
“We’ll be a team that gets better with time,” Townsend said. “It’s going to take a couple games to get used to playing with each other because we’re going to have a lot of new players on the field, and I think with time, we’ll get better and better and I hope we come together at the right time.”
There will be seven new starters in the lineup, but Maryland has a number of talented players who will get the first opportunity of their collegiate careers to make major contributions to the club this year. Even with a much-different looking team than last year, the goal is still the same. The Terps think they are just as good as any other team in the country.
“Last year we got to the quarterfinals and it felt like a disappointment,” Cirovski said. “Unfortunately, that’s the standard that we set for ourselves. Now, we had a great year last year. We won the ACC Championship and we played extremely well in the game that we lost but yet, I think the fans, myself, the players have a pretty empty feeling. We’re not afraid of the challenge we set for ourselves, or the bar we set for ourselves. I don’t think any of these kids would be happy with anything less than a trip to Alabama this year or coming back with an ACC title.”