Maryland and Michigan State played a high level 110 minutes at Ludwig Field, but neither team could find a goal.
Both the Terps and the Spartans had chances and both played great defense to deny one another an opportunity at victory. After the second overtime, the game went to penalties, and Maryland goalkeeper Zack Steffen showed off why he is one the best goalkeepers in the country as the Terps advanced past Sparty 3-2 in the penalty shoot out.
In the regular season the difference between the two was a poor Maryland turnover, which Michigan State converted for a goal. On Friday afternoon, both teams showed why they are two of the best in the Big Ten. While Maryland racked up 15 shots, they weren’t able to put many of them on target. Alex Shinsky, David Kabelik, and Tsubasa Endoh were able to create chances, but weren’t able to test Michigan State’s goalkeeper, Zach Bennett, much.
Shinsky didn’t play in the regular season match-up. Friday afternoon, he was a difference maker for the Terps. The senior captain created several opportunities for himself and his teammates. His playmaking on Friday, allowed Sasho to drop him to midfield for stretches and add another striker up top. Shinsky’s best chance came when he put a shot just wide left on the post after dribbling through the Michigan State defense.
Also missing from the regular season game in September was Tsubasa Endoh. The midfielder from Tokyo had the best chance of the match when he put a header just over the crossbar minutes before the end of the second half. Not having Endoh for the regular season game was a big blow for Maryland. Mixed with Dan Metzger and Mael Corboz in the midfield, it gives Maryland three players who can handle the ball confidently. The three of them are tough to dispossess and make it possible for Maryland to maintain possession for long stretches.
For as good as the midfield and defense was for Maryland, Friday afternoon was about goalkeeper Zack Steffen. The sophomore from Dowingtown, PA has been having a great sophomore campaign but it is often overshadowed by the defense and midfield in front of him. Steffen doesn’t see much action during games, but he was a large part of keeping Maryland in games while their offense struggled early in the season.
Penalty shootouts are always stressful and involve a lot of skill mixed with some luck. Steffen hadn’t seen a penalty kick all season, which made it even more stressful for Maryland fans. After guessing the wrong way on the first penalty, Steffen went the correct way on the next four penalties. He was able to save the second penalty, but the third was right past his outreached arms. On the fourth Michigan State penalty, Steffen correctly picked out the side and this time he was able to make his second save of the night.
Mael Corboz continued his penalty form by stepping up to convert the first penalty for Maryland. After Corboz, both Shinsky and Endoh, who missed the regular season meeting, stepped up and put away their attempts. The three of them had pace and placement on their kicks, which made it tough for Zach Bennett to get to. With a chance to end the shootout, Mikey Ambrose had his penalty saved.
With the shootout 3-2 in favor of Maryland, Michigan State’s fifth kicker stepped up. Adam Montague recorded Michigan State’s only shot on target during the game, and he had to convert a penalty to keep Sparty alive. Montague picked out his left side, but sent the penalty too far wide and missed the goal. Steffen had been getting a good jump on every penalty except one, and this clearly had Montague thrown off. At 6’2”, Steffen is a big goalie who can cover a lot of ground, which put more pressure on Michigan State to go out wide with pace.
In the earlier game, Indiana beat Ohio State 2-1 to advance to the championship game. Tanner Thompson finished tied with Mael Corboz for goals in Big Ten play, and he put Indiana up 2-1 with a penalty kick. Maryland beat Indiana 2-1 in Bloomington in their regular season match-up. Indiana enters the game in good form after advancing past Northwestern 5-4 on penalty kicks in Evanston and beating second seeded Ohio State in College Park.
The Big Ten Tournament finals will be held Sunday at Ludwig Field at 12:30pm. BTN will have coverage of the game