By Eddie Hobbs
The last time Maryland men’s soccer lost three games in a row was back in 2004, when the Terps lost three straight against William & Mary, Duke and Wake Forest.
What was happening in the world during that 2004 losing streak? Major League Baseball announced that the Montreal Expos would be moving to Washington, D.C. and the Boston Red Sox swept the St. Louis Cardinals to win their first World Series in 86 years.
Losing is something that both the team and head coach Sasho Cirovski are not used to. On Oct. 13, when Maryland defeated Wisconsin 5-4, the team looked poised, focused and opportunities were being finished. Eryk Williamson led Maryland with a second half hat trick against Wisconsin.
In the three games since that victory, zero goals have been scored. Maryland has let teams stay in games, and has wasted great performances by goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair.
What has been going wrong for Maryland during this stretch?
One glaring issue has been opposing team’s efficiency in Maryland’s final third. During the three-game losing streak, teams have attempted 25 shots with 12 of those shots on goal, just under a 50 percent clip. Teams have combined to score four goals in three games against Maryland.
It was not too long ago that the offense had been reliant on their strong backline to help them out. The Terps went on a five-game stretch, two coming against top 10 teams, without allowing a single goal. This defensive success overshadowed the struggling offense.
Maryland has also been missing its left back, Chase Gasper, who has been out with a groin injury during the losing streak.
Against VCU, Ben Di Rosa, who played at left back for one minute before the end of the half, lost his man on the near side of the field. The result: a low cross to the far post led to an easy goal for a Ram midfielder. Matt and Ben Di Rosa have been filling in for the missing Gasper, and it shows how big of a role Gasper plays on this team.
Most recently, Cirovski has noted that Donovan Pines, the Alex Crognale look-a-like, was held out of the game against VCU due to a concussion. Cirovski mentioned how much these injuries have hurt the team.
“Trying to keep plugging out depleted back line has been a major reality for us, and it has been a problem,” Cirovski said. “We have been giving away goals that we haven’t been giving away when we had all the players healthy. Some players have come in and done a solid job, but obviously having to move people around has really affected us.”
The Terrapins have lacked focus when they reach the opposing team’s box. One of Maryland’s strongest attackers, Gordon Wild, has failed to score since netting two goals against Rutgers.
In the 10 games since the team faced Rutgers, Wild has taken 34 shots and 16 of those shots were on goal. Yet, Wild has failed to reach the back of the net.
“We’re just very unlucky at the moment… personally myself, I can take the blame a little bit,” Wild said. “I haven’t scored in a lot of games now, so I have to face this now and the whole team has to face this and put this away. Adversity will always come, it’s just how we respond.”
Things will not get any easier for Maryland in its final game against Michigan on Sunday afternoon. The Wolverines allow a shade under one goal per game. Given the Terrapins’ recent track record, they will have to focus when they have opportunities in Michigan’s final third.