The #2 Maryland men’s soccer team plays another game in the NCAA Tournament this afternoon, facing off against #15 Penn State at Ludwig Field.
The Terps (18-2-1) destroyed Penn 4-0 in the second round a week ago, and Penn State (14-7-1) defeated Old Dominion 4-1 in their second round action. The two squads did not play during the regular season, but played a few common opponents. The Nittany Lions beat Penn 2-1 during the regular season, and defeated Michigan State 2-1. Maryland lost a heartbreaker against the Spartans to open up the year, falling 4-3 in College Park.
The Terps have won 14 straight games, and have shutout seven of their last nine opponents. Goalie Zac MacMath has 14 shutouts this year, averaging around half a goal allowed per game and possessing a save percentage of over 83%.
Penn State is led by All-Everything forward Corey Hertzog, who tied the Big Ten record with 20 goals this season. Seriously, just go look at the honors listed on his player page. Behind Hertzog, midfielder Matheus Braga set the Big Ten record with 17 assists this year, and was a unanimous first team all-conference selection. Brendan Birmingham is the Nittany Lions’ starting goalie, and has two shutouts in 13 games this year.
This is a tough game, but one that Maryland should win. The Terps are one of the favorites to win the national title, but we’ve seen that before, with the women’s team falling to Georgetown. Maryland has a balanced team, excelling on both offense and defense, and Sasho will have them motivated for this one. Terps, 3-1.