By: Eddie Hobbs
Maryland men’s soccer had an amazing regular season last year, finishing 18-0-2. It had many of the right pieces in place, but were shocked by Providence in the first round of the NCAA Tournament after giving up a 4-1 lead. It was a devastating loss for a team that showed so much promise, but now it has to move on to a new year.
Maryland has gone 3-0 this preseason, demonstrating that it still has a formidable squad. In their first match-up against St. John’s, the Terps won 2-0 thanks to goals by Miles Stray and DJ Reeves. The second exhibition was a win against American where Eric Matzelevich scored two goals while Emmanuel Korvah put one in the back of the net to win 3-0. The final preseason match was against No. 8 Syracuse where Gordon Wild had a hat trick in the 3-0 victory.
On Aug. 4 Maryland was ranked sixth overall by the United Soccer Coaches Poll, and on Aug. 16 the Terps were selected as the top team in the Big Ten preseason poll.
— Big Ten Soccer (@B1GSoccer) August 16, 2017
The team still has a lot of talent with Gordon Wild returning, who scored 17 goals in 2016. Wild was the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year in 2016, and was named to the MAC Hermann Trophy Watch List for this upcoming year. His preseason hat trick is an encouraging sign for the Terps.
In addition to Wild returning, Maryland is also bringing back Amar Sejdic and Donovan Pines. Sejdic tallied nine goals and nine assists in 2016 while Piles made the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and played crucial minutes off the bench to help defensively.
There is also a new face to look for in a Maryland uniform: Paul Frendach, a freshman midfielder who graduated from Dematha Catholic in Hyattsville, Maryland. Frendach led Dematha to back-to-back-to-back WCAC Championships, was First Team WCAC in 2016 and a Gatorade Player of the Year Nominee.
Maryland will be without its commander of the defense, Cody Niedermeier, who graduated last spring. Niedermeier was the Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year in 2016 and helped Maryland tie a school record with five consecutive shutouts. Redshirt sophomore Dayne St. Clair will try to pick up where Niedermeier left off. St. Clair has had a limited role for the Terps, appearing in just one 2015 game, which was a shutout against St. John’s.
This year could be big for Maryland if it can continue to dominate teams like it has in the past. The Terps are looking win their sixth straight conference tournament title this year, and it seems as if they are the early frontrunners. With the fans at their back and a team that looks ready for redemption after last year’s loss to Providence, the Terrapins have a lot to prove in 2017.
Photo courtesy of UMTerps.com