Freshman George Campbell scored one of three Terrapin goal in a 3-2 Maryland win at Rutgers on Wednesday evening. (Mandatory Credit: The Diamondback)
Maryland men’s soccer season came to an end on Sunday night in a second round upset to UMBC. After making back-to-back College Cups and twelve straight sweet sixteen’s, Maryland’s run ended. When Maryland moved to the Big Ten, there was never a worry about if the soccer team would be able to compete. In their first year in the Big Ten they were picked to win the league, despite protest from Penn State’s head coach, and they followed through on that prediction by winning the regular season and conference tournament championships.
After struggling at the beginning of the season, Maryland was able to turn their season around to finish in first in the Big Ten. However, on Sunday they resorted back to their September form and struggled to test the UMBC defense for long stretches. With six seniors graduating and a possible player leaving early, coach Sasho Cirovski will need to fill big shoes.
Senios Jordan Tatum and Kyle Roach didn’t play roles on this year’s team, but the four other seniors were critical to winning the Big Ten. Midfielder Dan Metzger possesses all of the tools to be a long-term player in Major League Soccer. With a homegrown contract for the New York Red Bulls, expect to see Metzger suite up for a top Eastern Conference team. Alex Shinsky appeared at #50 on TopDrawerSoccer.Com’s first big board for the MLS Draft. Shinsky had a great senior season once he got into form, and was a difference maker for the team when he began to start games. Injuries slowed down the 2011 number one recruit while he was at Maryland, and that could be the problem for his professional career. Jereme Raley became one of the top right backs while at Maryland. After redshirting his freshman year, he developed well throughout his five years and became a trusted player for Sasho. Mikias Eticha is the sixth senior, and while he didn’t have a great season statistically, he was able to play a role as second striker who helped ease the pressure off of Shinsky.
The future for Maryland is unknown since replacing these players will be tough. Here are some players to watch to potential fill those roles.
Christoff Wallander-Ianev – Right Back
Jereme Raley was injured during the Big Ten semi-final against Michigan State, and Wallander-Ianev came in for him. Sasho held out Raley in the next game against Indiana and opted to start the freshman in his place. Wallander-Ianev filled in well against a top attacking team who had the Big Ten’s leading scorer. Christoff was able to play a role in attack and finished the games first goal on an opportunistic chance in the box. The other three defenders will be returning and Wallander-Ianev has already shown that he can step into the right back role. Suli Dainkeh would have appeared to be the replacement for Raley, but the Big Ten Tournament gave us a look into Sasho’s plan for next year.
Jake Areman – Midfielder
Replacing Dan Metzger will be extremely difficult for Maryland. He was a rock in midfield as he played almost every minute this season. Metzger played as a defensive midfielder and exceled at the position. Areman, a freshman from Colts Neck, NJ, was used throughout the season by Sasho and made a positive impact whenever he was used. However, Areman was used more as an attacking midfielder and this role is already covered by Tsubasa Endoh and Mael Corboz who will maintain those roles next year, and be primary options in the attacking third. Jake Areman possesses creativity and ball control, but can he gain the strength to play in more of a holding role?
Connor Smith – Midfielder
The senior at McDonogh is rated the #9 midfielder in the class of 2015 by TopDrawerSoccer.com. Maryland has a solid recruiting class coming at the midfield position, but Smith might have the best chance to make an impact as a holding midfielder. The other midfield recruits are known more for their attacking ability, which will help Maryland but not in the goal of replacing Metzger. Smith has trained with the USMNT U-18 team, which will help him in making the jump to high major soccer. His combination play with current Maryland freshman George Campbell could provide for excitement as both players will be reuniting.
David Kabelik – Forward
Maryland has both forward positions open with Eticha and Shinsky graduating. Kabelik played a role off the bench this season with two starts early in the year. Kabelik played the same role off the bench as a freshman and sophomore, and early in the season Sasho was looking to him too take a step forward and be a starter. That leap didn’t fully happen to insert Kabelik into the starting eleven, which was disappointing giving how much Maryland struggled offensively. As a senior next year, the hope will be that he can show more consistency and be the full time starter.
George Campbell – Forward
As a freshman he came to Maryland with a lot of hype and failed to live up to it right away. He was dropped from the starting eleven, but showed maturity by not letting it impact his game. Campbell showed great hustle when on the pitch and often times was able to stretch the defense. He finished with four goals on the year and looked more comfortable as the year progressed. It was difficult to expect him to come in and make an immediate impact against tough competition. With a year under his belt, expect him to make a leap into a full time starter especially with Connor Smith on the team who he played with at McDonogh.
Jorge Calix – Midfielder/Forward
Another highly touted recruit with local ties will look to make an immediate impact. He is a product of the DC United academy and recently helped their U-16 team earn a spot in the playoffs with two goals. He is described to be technically gifted and will be relied upon to play not only score but to create opportunities as well. Learning under Mael Corboz for a year will greatly help Calix develop into an attacking midfielder. Corboz led Maryland in goals this year and converted most of them off of set pieces and penalty kicks. Having a player who can take advantage of those opportunities can greatly help a team who might struggle to find natural scorers right away.
The offseason is young and the biggest question has yet to be answered. Will Zack Steffen go pro? If the answer is yes, then it could present Maryland with more questions than answers. Currently Maryland does not have a commitment from any 2015 goalies and they are already losing one goalkeeper this year in Jordan Tatum. It will not be hard for Sasho to find a goalie if Steffen leaves giving the pedigree of the position at Maryland. However, losing a player of Steffen’s caliber will significantly impact a strong defensive team.