On Wednesday night, Maryland men’s soccer won their first Big Ten Title after defeating fellow newcomer, Rutgers, 3-2 in New Jersey. The Terrapins entered the night two points behind Penn State for the league lead. Penn State finished their conference schedule last Saturday with a loss to Northwestern, and with Maryland’s win over Rutgers they secured the full three points to move into first place.
Rutgers’ transfer and now Maryland junior, Mael Corboz, returned to the stadium he once called home. Less than five minutes into the game, he put the Terrapins up 1-0. Rutgers answered back in the 23rd minute, but then freshman George Campbell scored in the 38th minute to give Maryland the lead before halftime at 2-1.
After the half, Alex Shinsky found David Kabelik inside the box and Kabelik put Maryland up 3-1. Shinsky also assisted Corboz’s goal to open the game. With less than a minute remaining in the ninety, Rutgers answered back with another goal to cut the lead 3-2, which was the final score.
Mael Corboz concluded a stellar first year as a Terrapin. He scored eight goals in the season, which put him second overall for total goals in the Big Ten. Corboz scored four goals in conference play, which tied him with Indiana’s Tanner Thompson for the most in the Big Ten.
Wednesday was the season finale for the Big Ten. Eight of the nine teams were action in a conference game. After last weekend, Maryland, Northwestern, and Penn State were the only teams in contention for a Big Ten title, but every game on Wednesday had an important impact on the standings and tournament seeding.
Michigan State and Indiana entered Wednesday night’s game in a tie for fifth place. The Spartans went to Bloomington and grabbed all three points from the second ranked team in TopDrawerSoccer’s national poll. Ohio State and Michigan met for their annual rivalry game, with the Buckeyes one point ahead in the standings. Michigan had upset in-state rival Michigan State on Sunday, but couldn’t do the same against the Buckeyes, dropping 2-1. Finally, Northwestern played last place Wisconsin and won 2-0 to move into a tie with Penn State and Ohio State for second place.
Wisconsin and Rutgers will kick off the Big Ten tournament on Saturday November 8 at Ludwig Field in College Park. The winner will play Maryland on Sunday November 9. The other first round games on November 9 are:
4) Penn State vs. 5) Michigan State – State College, PA
3) Northwestern vs. 6) Indiana – Evanston, IL
2) Ohio State vs. 7) Michigan – Columbus, OH
If Maryland beats the Rutgers/Wisconsin winner then the rest of the tournament will take place at Ludwig Field in College Park on November 14 and 16. The Terrapins beat both Rutgers and Wisconsin in the regular season. Their next set of opponents would be the winner of Penn State and Michigan State. Maryland beat Penn State 4-0 in College Park, but they lost 1-0 to Michigan State in College Park.
The Terrapins enter the conference tournament riding an eight game winning streak. Over that streak they beat: Penn State, Indiana, Ohio State, and Rutgers. The end of the season has been rough for the rest of the Big Ten, which led to a frantic finish in the conference. Maryland’s title was in large part thanks to Penn State and Michigan State losing games down the stretch that kept the door open for Maryland. This should make the conference tournament more enjoyable since there was not much separating each team in the regular season.
Continuing the winning streak during the Big Ten tournament will be important for Maryland to continue to build their case for a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament. Beating Penn State or Michigan State would give Maryland another marquee win over a top twenty-five team. On the lower half of the bracket, the only two teams who are ranked are Northwestern and Indiana, and they play each other in the first round. Maryland looks good enough to beat anyone right now, but gaining home field advantage in the NCAA Tournament would help this team further.