The Indiana men's soccer team earned a rematch with Maryland after defeating Ohio State 2-1 in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals Friday afternoon. Here are three keys to Sunday’s game for the Hoosiers to avoid a repeat of their 2-1 home loss to Maryland back on Oct. 19.
1. Control the pace of play
Probably the biggest thing I took away from IU’s last meeting with Maryland was how fast the match was played. The Terrapins’ speed and athleticism was unlike anything the Hoosiers had faced all season. After the game, players said they probably won’t play a team with that kind of pacing the rest of the season.
The Hoosiers like to control the tempo and play at their own pace, often a slower one. However, because of that, they have difficulties staying with opponents who are faster than them, which is why they struggled against Maryland in the regular season. To control the pace and slow Maryland down, IU needs heavy defensive pressure, especially at the midfield.
2. Making the most of opportunities near goal
Maryland narrowly outshot IU 12-11 in the last meeting between the two teams. But the more telling stat behind the Terrapins’ success at Jerry Yeagley Field wasn’t in the number of shots, but rather the number of shots on goal. Six of their 12 shots were on goal, compared to just three out of 11 for the Hoosiers. Indiana can’t let that happen again and get more shots on frame. This will also be crucial because if it can’t control the pace the way it wants to, it will have to make the most of every opportunity it gets near and inside of the box.
3. Strong play from the back line
Defense has been Indiana’s strong suit this season, particularly along the back line and in goal. The Hoosiers have seven shutouts so far this season and will have a tall task in facing a fast Terrapin attack. Led by junior midfielder Mael Corboz’s nine goals, Maryland has outscored its opponents 33-17 this season. The usual starters along the back line – redshirt senior defender Kerel Bradford, redshirt sophomore Derek Creviston, freshman defender Grant Lillard and senior defender Patrick Doody – will have their hands full on Sunday defending Maryland’s forwards. Communication between IU’s backline and Colin Webb will be key to prevent Maryland from running up the score.
Indiana faces Maryland at 12:30 p.m. ET Sunday in College Park, Md. The game will be broadcasted live on the Big Ten Network. Be sure to check back at AllHoosiers.com for coverage later that day.