For the Ohio State men’s soccer team, the season has not quite gone as expected.
At 3-8 on the season, 2-2 in conference, it will be an uphill battle for the Buckeyes the rest of the way.
After losing its last three games, OSU will look to get back in the win column as it continues Big Ten play on the road, where the team has been unable to grab a victory so far this season.
The Buckeyes have their toughest test yet, on Friday taking on No. 1 Maryland.
“They are a very talented team, one that will be very dangerous going forward,” said OSU coach John Bluem. “If we aren’t prepared for them, it could be a long night.”
Maryland has been nothing short of a juggernaut this season. The Terrapins have outscored their opponents 26-7, good enough for an 8-0-2 overall record, first in the Big Ten at 4-0-1 and owning the top spot in the national rankings.
The Terps’ high-powered offense is fueled by sophomore forward Gordon Wild. He leads the conference in both goals (nine) and points (20) through 10 games this year.
Alongside Wild is sophomore midfielder Amar Sejdic, who was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week after his games against Northwestern and San Diego, where he scored two goals and had a pair of assists. Sejdic is second in the Big Ten with 12 points.
The strong Maryland defense is backed up by redshirt senior goalkeeper Cody Niedermeier. He has been stellar, making 18 saves and allowing only seven goals while putting up four shutouts on the year.
The complete team performance has led the Terrapins to an unbeaten start. The Terps have not lost a game since falling 1-0 on the road on Oct. 31, 2015, when they lost to OSU.
“It’s a huge game for us,” said senior forward Yaw Amankwa, a Maryland native who scored the game-winning goal in that contest. “It feels great knowing we are the last team that beat them and we are hoping to do it again.”
Since that game, Maryland is 13-0-4 overall.
OSU faced off against Maryland again in the Big Ten tournament title game in 2015, this time the Terps coming away with a 2-0 victory.
“We played them twice last year and both games were very tough games,” said senior defender Tyler Kidwell. “They have a bunch of talent all over the field but we were able to beat them last year. We have a great team this year, so I don’t see why we can’t do it again.”
Maryland leads the all-time series against the Buckeyes 4-1. OSU is 0-2 all-time in College Park, coming away with a 1-0 loss its last time there in 2014.
“I think we are finally going to have everybody available, which is almost a first this year for any game we have played, including the exhibition games,” Bluem said. “I’d say that, finally, we might be going into a game injury free.”
At fifth place in the conference, players and coaches know there is little to lose, and that conservative play will not help them moving forward. OSU hopes that playing a little more loosely can help them get the season back on track.
“We are seen as the underdogs right now,” Amankwa said. “We can turn our season around. It happened last year, and we can do it again. We have nothing to lose, just play and have fun.”