By: Eddie Hobbs
The Terps have had their struggles, losing their last five games including a loss in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Given the recent skid, midfielder Jake Rozhansky believes the team is ready to respond and revitalize their season.
“I think we feel good, obviously we didn’t want to be eliminated early, but it happened,” Rozhansky said. “We have had a chance to regroup, and get our legs back and really prepare. The big goal is still ahead of us so that is what we are all working for.”
Some good news came out of College Park on Tuesday: Chase Gasper will appear in his natural left back position after going down in the Oct. 13 matchup against Wisconsin. Gasper is a key piece to the Maryland back line and provides a significant boost to the team overall.
Many players on defense have had to play out of position and it has hurt the team. The best back line for Maryland this season has been Chase Gasper, Donovan Pines, Johannes Bergmann and George Campbell.
With the attack coming up short in some games this season, they were able to rely on the back line to keep them in some games, including losses to Michigan State and Indiana. Cirovski thinks that there will be a rebirth with the attack on Thursday.
“I think the main thing for us is that we are getting better defensively, we have gifted too many soft easy goals to teams,” Cirovski said. “Our attack has dried up a little bit, we’ve worked so hard with our relationships of our front four and five attacking players, and this is the best I’ve seen them all year in the last nine days of training.”
On Monday afternoon, the NCAA released the bracket for the 48 teams who will compete for the College Cup.
The Terps found out they would take on a tough Albany team (14-4-2, 4-2-1 American East) that won its second-consecutive America East title Sunday. Cirovski thinks that the week that the Terps had off will help them in the long run.
“We’ve had a great nine days of training since our last loss, we will have our back line fully back for the first time in the last three weeks, and I’m excited,” Cirovski said. “There is a preseason sharpness to the group right now, there is enthusiasm and pep in their step, and I can’t wait for Thursday, to get back to Ludwig Field.”
What Albany brings to the table
This is the second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament for Albany; it drew the 14th seed last season and received a first-round bye. The Danes beat Boston College handily 3-0, but lost in the quarterfinals to Clemson 3-1.
Albany’s success comes from its ability to play with great defensive pressure. The Danes only allow 0.70 goals per game and have shut out their opponents in 11 games — 55 percent of their matches this season. Maryland has had trouble scoring in the first halves of games, and it doesn’t help that Albany has only allowed two goals in the first half of matches this season.
The Danes are led by two forwards, Nico Solabarrieta, who has recorded a team-high eight goals and six assists, along with Afonso Pinheiro, who has notched seven goals and four assists. Albany is anchored down by defender Daniel Krutzen who leads the team with seven assists.
What Maryland needs to do to win
It is no secret that Gordon Wild has failed to get back to the dominant striker that he was from last year. Many of his shots have failed to be on goal and he has struggled when teams focus on shutting him down to limit the Terps’ attack.
Wild scored 16 goals last year and has only scored five this season. In the last five games Wild has taken 13 shots, four of which were on goal, good for 31 percent. If Maryland wants to have a chance of winning, it needs its best player to perform to his 2016 form.
“I think Gordon is a resilient young man, he’s been very frustrated he’s come close, he could easily have 10 or 12 goals right now. But he has had a lot of close calls and close misses,” Cirovski said. “And he has gotten frustrated, we spent quite a bit of time, one-on-one with myself, watching video and really detailing what his strengths really are…. He’s played simpler and become more efficient in the last nine days than he has most of the season.”
First half struggles have plagued the team in some of the games this season. Maryland has only scored 12 first half goals compared to 17 second half goals. Maryland must jump on Albany early so it can focus on shutting them down on defense.