Dec 15, 2013; Chester, PA, USA; Maryland Terrapins midfielder Alex Shinsky (9) reacts after losing to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish 2-1 during the division I chamionship soccer game at PPL Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
Don’t look now, but the Maryland Terrapins soccer team is on a four game winning streak and two points out of first place in the Big Ten. Before the season started, Sunday’s game against Indiana was one of the most anticipated Big Ten soccer games of the season. Following a slow start to the season for the Terps, it looked like this game would not be as heavily contested as previously thought. Indiana and Maryland have two of the best soccer traditions in the country, and came within a penalty shot of playing for the 2012 National Championship.
Although Maryland’s season started off slowly, they came into Sunday’s game on a three game winning streak and a week removed from beating top seeded Penn State 4-0. Indiana was ranked #5 heading into the game, and even though Maryland was unranked, they were playing like a top team in college soccer. In a fairly even game, Maryland took a 1-0 lead into half before winning 2-1 to extend their winning streak to four games.
Playing a role in Maryland’s winning streak is senior Alex Shinsky. After falling out of the rotation in favor of younger players and because of injury, Shinsky has regained his spot in the starting eleven and the move is paying off for Sasho. On Sunday, Shinsky opened the scoring with a twentieth minute unassisted strike inside the box. Dan Metzger started the play with a takeaway at midfield and a quick pass to Michael Sauers, who was able to find Shinsky and lead him into a 1v1 situation. Shinsky is not known for his dribbling ability, but he is a fearless player. He took on an Indiana defender and created enough space to slot him a far side left footed goal.
The half ended with Shinsky’s goal as the difference. Indiana had one more shot than Maryland, leading in that department 6-5. There was cause for concern for the Terrapins, as right back Jereme Raley received a yellow card in the half. Raley’s play on the right wing has helped Maryland to control possessions and push the ball up field. He is also a veteran defender, who the team would need to protect their first road lead of the season.
Senior Mikias Eticha wasn’t one of the first names that fans thought of when the season started, but the midfielder from Falls Church is having a stellar final season. Just under six minutes into the start of the second half, Eticha found space in the midfield and with that space he found 6’5″ Alex Crognale in front of goal, who put a headed shot past Colin Webb. Sasho has experimented at times with bringing up Alex Crognale who plays center back, but it is usually reserved for late game situations when the Terps are down. On Sunday, Crognale pushed up the field and the team was able to use his height in front of goal to grab a two score lead.
With under twenty minutes left in the game, Indiana was able to grab one goal back. Junior Femi Hollinger-Janzen scored his fourth goal of the season for the Hoosiers, which puts him on top of the team scoring sheet. Substitute Jack Griffith sent a service into the box, and Janzen finished it off with a header past Zack Steffen. The goal marked the end of a three hundred forty three minute scoreless streak for the Maryland defense. Northwestern, on October 5th, was the last team to score on Maryland.
The Terrapins hung on to win 2-1 and grab three much needed points. After using almost every player on the roster in games earlier this season, Sasho appears to have found his starting eleven and the substitutes. Against Indiana, he only brought in three players off the bench, junior David Kabelik and freshmen George Campbell and Jeroen Meefout. Experimenting with the line-ups looks to be over for Maryland as they settle down for the home stretch of their first Big Ten season.
In the other big game of the weekend, Michigan State gave Penn State their second loss of the year. With the Nittany Lions loss, it sets up for a fun finish in the 2014 Big Ten soccer season. Penn State is still on top of the conference with twelve points, but tied for second are Michigan State and Maryland with ten points. The Spartans have a tough schedule, but have three conference games left as opposed to Penn State and Maryland who have two left in the conference. Maryland has a two tough conference games, which could leave them just short of the regular season title as they play host to Ohio State before finishing at Rutgers. However, Maryland does find themselves in a good spot to grab at least one home game in the Big Ten tournament.
Maryland will be off until Saturday when they host Santa Clara in one of two non-conference games remaining. The five day break comes at a much needed time as Maryland played five games in fourteen days. Included in that stretch were two road games and two games against top five teams. The Terps improved their record to 7-5-2 with the win over Indiana, an impressive turn around for a team who started the season 1-3-2 in their first six games.
Maryland Starters vs Indiana
GK: Zack Steffen
Def: Alex Crognale, Mikey Ambrose, Jereme Raley, Chris Odoi-Atsem
Mid: Michael Sauers, Dan Metzger, Mael Corboz, Tsubasa Endoh
For: Mikias Eticha, Alex Shinsky
Goals: Shinsky – 20′ (2); Crognale – 51′ (1)
Discipline: Raley – 22′ (Yellow); Eticha – 62′ (Yellow); TEAM – 62′ (Yellow)