Men’s Soccer: Northwestern can’t overcome No. 12 Maryland’s offensive pressure, losing match 3-1


Kelsey Carroll/Daily Senior Staffer

Graduate student defender Spencer Farina makes a move past an Ohio State defender at home. The Wildcats have three out of their last four regular season games at Martin Stadium.

Lawrence Price, Assistant Sports Editor

Entering on a two-game win streak, Northwestern’s momentum snapped against No. 12 Maryland on Friday, losing 3-1. 

Although the wanted result was not achieved, the affair presented coach Russell Payne with an opportunity to walk down memory lane.

The first-year head coach played goalie for four years in College Park, Md., where he helped the Terrapins win their first-ever ACC Tournament championship in 1996 and received an All-ACC selection his sophomore year. After graduating, Payne returned to his alma mater in 2005 as an assistant coach for five seasons. The Friday match was Payne’s first meeting on the opposite side of the field from Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski, the Terrapins’ skipper during his time there. 

Despite this, Payne’s reappearance and the Wildcats’ (4-6-2, 1-4-0 Big Ten) groove wasn’t enough. NU reached the back of the net first, but were unable to keep up with Maryland’s constant offensive pressure.

The Terrapins’ miscue by defender Chris Rindov led to the Cats getting on the scoreboard first. Junior midfielder Vicente Castro capitalized off the Maryland mistake, stealing the ball from the defender and kicking it past goalkeeper Niklas Neumann in the 15th minute, giving NU a 1-0 lead. 

The early success didn’t stop the Terrapins from finding the scoring column as well. With seven shots in the first 30 minutes, Maryland picked up the tying goal after forward Justin Gielen’s head-butt into the goal from forward Brayan Padilla’s pass. Although the score remained 1-1 by the end of the first period, the Terrapins outshot NU 11-3.

Maryland found the net early in the second period again. In the 49th minute and first shot of the second half, midfielder Ben Bender found forward Jacen Russell-Rowe near the top of the box, resulting in a left-footed kick past NU’s graduate student goalie Miha Miskovic.

The Terrapins weren’t satisfied after goal number two and made it clear. The team took 15 shots in the second period, before receiving a penalty kick in the 80th minute after senior forward Jose Del Valle’s handball to stop a potential Maryland goal. Midfielder Malcolm Johnston capitalized on the awarded free kick, stretching the Terrapins’ lead to 3-1.

The Cats were unable to cut the deficit down nor take a shot in the last 10 minutes of the game, leaving the score at 3-1. NU finished the game with four shots, three on goal, versus Maryland’s 26 total attempts, 10 of which were on goal. 

Each team’s number of shot attempts throughout the season makes this less surprising. The Cats have taken the fewest number of shots by any team in the Big Ten (93) and averaged the least per game (7.75). But Maryland has 159 shots this season and averaged 14.45 each contest, the conference-most in both categories.

As NU’s four wins while winning only two shot battles this season demonstrate, a match is not determined by the total number of shots taken. Although true, facing a nationally-ranked team with a strong offense will be tough to defend for any team. 

The Cats’ ability to limit Maryland to only three goals over their large shot count provides an optimistic outlook in the loss, especially with four contests left on the regular season schedule and three in front of the home crowd. NU currently sits at eighth in conference standings, but with two of the teams left on the schedule being Michigan State, with the sixth-best record in the conference, and Rutgers, the seventh-best record, the Cats can make a late climb up the Big Ten ladder.

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