“We’re certainly two of the Mount Rushmore programs in college soccer.”
That was how Maryland men’s soccer head coach Sasho Cirovski described Maryland and Indiana, a pair of blue bloods in the college soccer landscape who will meet at Ludwig Field on Friday night. This installment of the rivalry offers a bit more at stake — a spot in the Big Ten Tournament championship game.
For the second consecutive season, the Terps and Hoosiers will meet in the postseason. 2018 presented a nearly identical situation, as the two teams squared off in the Big Ten semifinals last year. The Hoosiers won thanks to a penalty shootout, but the landscape will change dramatically in 2019 — from Westfield, Indiana, to College Park, Maryland.
Ludwig Field was selected in August to host the Big Ten Tournament semifinals and finals. Home field advantage has been massive for the Terps historically, and they hope this weekend could see that trend continue.
“The goal was obviously to come back here to play in front of our amazing fans one more time, at least,” Niklas Neumann said. “To come back and play in front of our fans on Ludwig once more again on Friday is going to be great.”
4,888 fans turned out to see the first fixture between the two squads this season, a game that Maryland won 3-0 on October 18. Despite the positive result four weeks ago, the Terps recognize the danger posed by the Hoosiers, who won the Big Ten regular season championship.
“Playing Indiana home, away, neutral, it’s always tough,” Cirvoski said.
The rivalry has become a familiar one for some of Maryland’s more experienced players. Eli Crognale, Johannes Bergmann, Brett St. Martin and Ben Di Rosa all started last year’s semi final bout. They were also part of Maryland’s dramatic 2-0 College Cup semifinal victory.
“Every time we play them, it’s always been super tough,” he said. “It’s always a great game against Indiana, so we’re excited for the matchup.”
History has backed up Di Rosa’s claim: the all-time series stands at 4-4-7. Indiana is one of only three opponents that the Terps have drawn with seven times in program history.
Although there’s very little to separate the two teams historically, they got to this point in contrasting ways. Indiana, the tournament’s no. 1 seed, grabbed a goal late in the first half in their win over Ohio State, and benefitted from a Buckeye red card in the 51st minute en route to a 2-0 win on home soil.
Maryland travelled to a blustery Evanston, Illinois for a tightly-fought affair with Northwestern. Eli Crognale notched a goal in the 71st minute to give the Terps a 1-0 win in a contest marked by a strong winter breeze off Lake Michigan. Both teams will have to deal with the conditions on Friday, as well. Temperatures in the 40s are expected by the time the teams square off at 7 p.m.
“In the postseason, all these games are going to be freezing cold, so we just kind of got to do our best to ignore it, and not let it affect us,” Di Rosa said. “ It’ll be a little warmer than in Northwestern, so we just gotta kinda appreciate any warmth we can get.”
The Terps’ 3-goal margin was the largest by either team in the series’ history, but, if the past is prologue, the same shouldn’t be expected on Friday.
“Every time we played it’s been a great chess match, it’s a great battle,” Cirovski said. “And most of the time it ends up being a classic.”