The last time Ohio State men’s soccer beat Maryland, it had an entirely different coaching staff and roster, save redshirt senior goalie Parker Siegfried.
Ohio State (6-7-1,1-3-1 Big Ten) enters the final stretch of its regular season on a three-game slide, but has a chance to turn it around with its final three conference matchups, beginning against No. 22 Maryland (8-4-2, 2-1-2 Big Ten) Friday at home.
“We still know if we get good results against those teams, then everything is right there for us still as far as the Big Ten tournament and an NCAA appearance,” senior midfielder Jack Holland said.
The reigning 2018 national champions head into Columbus with steam. The Terrapins have recorded back-to-back shutout victories against No. 6 Indiana and No. 24 Yale.
“They press and repress. They get after you offensively. They will rotate it for sure but when they can go, they go,” Ohio State head coach Brian Maisonneuve said. “They’re goal dangerous, and they have the pieces to do it. It’s going to be a fast game.”
Despite being three places ahead of the Buckeyes in the Big Ten standings, Maryland averages fewer shots, goals and assists than Ohio State. Its 1.21 goals per game is middle of the pack in the nine-team conference, sitting at No. 5.
Maryland’s top offensive weapons include junior forward Eric Matzelevich and freshman midfielder David Kovacic, who are the team’s top two scorers with four and three goals, respectively.
The Terrapins boast eight shutouts this year, allowing just 0.79 goals per game. Opponents have outscored Ohio State by an average of .28 goals per game this year.
Ohio State’s late-game performance has been especially lacking in recent games, allowing two unanswered goals to close a 2-1 loss to Kentucky and three to end a 3-1 defeat against Michigan State.
“We talk about that mentality after we score. We really have to focus on that because it has cost us games,” Maisonneuve said.
After scoring against Michigan State, the Buckeyes never again matched the Spartans’ intensity, Maisonneuve said.
Ohio State players to watch include Holland and junior forward Matteo Bennati. Holland leads the team with 15 points, good for No. 2 in the Big Ten, with four goals and seven assists. Bennati is third in team points with three goals and two assists.
Holland said that trend cannot continue if Ohio State wants to make a run in the Big Ten tournament.
“It’s hard to pinpoint what happens, but in my opinion, and what I have been trying to play every game, it’s a mental thing,” Holland said. “In the first half, we are all hyped up and buzzing, and then we get a goal and think we can switch off. The team cannot switch off. And I try to remind myself to stay switched on.”
Kickoff for Ohio State’s second-to-last home game of the year is at 7 p.m. Friday against Maryland.