By Eddie Hobbs
The Maryland Terrapins will face off against the Wisconsin Badgers Sunday at 1 p.m. in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament. Both teams battled it out on Oct. 13 in a 5-4 Terps’ win in the pouring rain.
Times and TV coverage of the #B1GMSOC Tournament have been announced. Action kicks off on Nov. 4 at Noon ET.
— Big Ten Soccer (@B1GSoccer) October 30, 2017
Maryland struggled to close out the Badgers in the previous matchup. After Eryk Williamson netted three-goals in a row to put the Terps up 5-2 with six minutes remaining, Wisconsin scored two quick goals to narrow the lead to one. Both teams combined for six yellow cards and one red card, and it led to some rough play.
“Everything was built up in the moment, everybody wanted to come out with three points,” forward Eryk Williamson said. “I feel like it is going to be the same battle but I mean the chippiness comes with the game…. It is just how the game gets.”
The offense has been lackluster since that Oct. 13 match. Maryland has scored one lone goal since netting five goals against Wisconsin. The Terps might still be looking for answers on the offensive end, but the regular season is behind them, and they must now focus on the bigger task at hand.
“Some games we really didn’t bring our ‘A’ game and teams kind of took advantage of that. But at this point that was regular season,” midfielder Amar Sejdic said. “Postseason every team starts off 0-0 so I feel like if we can just get over the last hump that we’ve had, then we will have to start looking for positive ones, starting Sunday.”
Sasho Cirovski wants the team to get back to having fun, like they had earlier in the season. The team had a meeting this week about returning to that form. He feels that if the players are having fun out on the pitch, the thoughts of this losing streak will begin to fade away.
“We talked about our reality and we also reviewed all of the great things that we have done this year when we have played with a joy, and we want to get to that,” Cirovski said. “Certainly we want to get one or two players back, but I think that is the message. Ever since last year I think all we have wanted to do was get back into the postseason.”
In the four games since facing off against Wisconsin, Maryland has gone 0-4. The Terrapins most recently lost to No. 19 Michigan last Sunday 2-1 in a double OT thriller. Going into the game against the Wolverines, Maryland had a chance to win the Big Ten regular season title in back-to-back years.
Wisconsin hasn’t been on a hot streak either: the team finished out the season 1-1-1. The Badgers lost to Indiana, pulled off a draw against Milwaukee and defeated Ohio State in their season finale.
Maryland will have to be on the lookout for the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Christopher Mueller, who scored a penalty pick on Oct. 13. Mueller scored eight goals and had 13 assists for Wisconsin this season. Stopping Mueller starts with a healthy back line, something the Terps haven’t had in the final four games.
Chase Gasper and Donovan Pines are both considered day-to-day for the upcoming match, according to Sasho Cirovski. Gasper has been slowed down with a groin injury and Pines is suffering from concussion symptoms, so it will remain to be seen if the two players will be ready to go against the Badgers.