Men’s Soccer: Northwestern plays Maryland for the first time


Daily file photo by Nathan Richards

Northwestern’s Jeffrey Hopson and Eric Weberman chase a DePaul player in a Sept. 24 Wildcats victory. NU hosts Maryland on Sunday looking for their first Big Ten win.

Julian Gerez, Development and Recruitment Editor

After a tough away trip to play the reigning Big Ten champions, Northwestern (4-1-4, 0-1-2 Big Ten) returns to Lakeside Field Sunday to take on conference newcomer Maryland (3-4-2, 1-1-1 Big Ten) in their first-ever meeting.

The Terrapins have had a tough record on the road, recording no victories and losing two of their three matches, which the Wildcats will hope to capitalize on in order to pick up their first conference win of the season.

Maryland has struggled offensively this year, scoring just eight goals in their nine matches this season. Their two top scorers have two goals a piece. One of these two, sophomore forward Michael Sauers, could be dangerous off of the bench for the Terrapins, with his two goals coming off of just four starts in nine matches.

But if NU’s defense remains as solid as it has been this season, then they should be able to hold off Maryland. The Cats have not allowed any goals at home this year, and have only conceded more than one goal in a single game once this season, away at Ohio State.

Much has been said about the accomplishments of senior goalkeeper Tyler Miller, who has made an impressive 32 saves from 36 shots on goal by NU’s opponents, but the Cats back line has also been formidable. Despite conceding a penalty kick goal against Indiana, NU hasn’t allowed a goal from open play in an incredible 436 minutes.

Senior defender Nikko Boxall has not only defended well, but also has contributed offensively. The New Zealand native has chalked up one goal and notched two assists in the eight matches he has played.

An upcoming offensive outlet for NU, freshman Sam Forsgren has been trusted with an important role in the team early on. Though he hasn’t picked up his first goal yet, he has made an assist and will look to make an impact against the Terrapins.

“(I’m playing) more tucked into the left, trying to connect with all the other attackers,” Forsgren said of his role on the team. “I’m up-and-down, out wide, inside, everywhere really … not as much isolation, just connecting.”

The majority of Maryland’s offense has come in the second half of matches. The Terrapins have taken 63.2 percent of their shots in second half or later of their games and have scored four more goals in the same time frame. Similarly, NU has taken 65.2 percent of their shots in the second half or later of their matches, and has scored all of their goals in that time period.

The Cats snatched away a win from Indiana’s grasp in their last game on Sept. 28 in Bloomington when sophomore Brandon Medina scored his first goal of the season in the 89th minute to take the match, which ultimately ended as a draw, into overtime.

“It was a really hard-fought point,” coach Tim Lenahan said. “We were able to get the equalizer so I’m really proud of the guys and the way they battled back.”

Most recently, the Terrapins lost against No. 16 Georgetown at home Tuesday night, ending Maryland’s shutout streak of more than 270 minutes. Before that, they picked up their first Big Ten win with a 2-0 victory over Wisconsin.

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Twitter: @JulianEGerez