An injury-plagued Maryland men’s soccer hopes extra rest pays off before Big Ten tourney

Midfielder William James Herve with the ball in Maryland men's soccer's 1-0 win over South Florida on Aug. 29, 2019. (Julia Nikhinson/The Diamondback)

After undergoing surgery and spending just over two months in South Korea rehabbing a torn ACL, forward Paul Bin returned from his home country Oct. 31 and was on Maryland men’s soccer’s sideline for the first time this season.

Bin’s injury — sustained in training in August — was the first that the Terps suffered this season. But during his absence, a plethora of others have followed.

So when Bin returned to the sideline for Sunday’s 4-2 loss against Michigan, he joined a group of three unavailable players. Then, during the match, midfielder David Kovacic had a sickness and midfielder Malcolm Johnston picked up an injury of his own.

With six full days between the regular-season finale and the team’s Big Ten tournament quarterfinal match against Northwestern on the road, coach Sasho Cirovski is hopeful that the team will get a few players back in the fold.

“I’m grateful that we have a week between the next game,” Cirovski said. “I’m hoping by the time we got on the plane next Saturday, we’ll put together a healthier group.”

[Read more: Maryland men’s soccer drops six spots to No. 23 in rankings after 0-2 week]

Bin and forward Brayan Padilla will remain sidelined with torn ACLs. But the 27th-year coach said the team could see midfielder William James Herve return to the lineup in the Big Ten tournament. Herve, the team’s top-returning scorer along with Bin, has played a grand total of 19 minutes this season while dealing with nagging leg injuries.

Forward Justin Gielen joined the group of injured players after suffering a concussion late in Oct. 29’s loss to Penn State. Before the injury, Gielen had been finding his form, delivering a goal in two consecutive matches.

Kovacic and Johnston both started Sunday’s match, but each was limited to playing just over half of the contest with their respective illness and injury.

“Unfortunately, a couple of kids got sick, a couple of kids got hurt,” Cirovski said. “And you add on to the full-time hurt guys, and it’s not a good recipe.”

[Read more: In regular-season finale, Michigan poked holes throughout Maryland men’s soccer’s defense]

With Gielen, Johnston and Kovacic all absent from the attack in the regular-season finale, Cirovski was without six players who were expected to provide an offensive lift this season.

And as the depleted attack sought an equalizer in the final 35 minutes of regulation against the Wolverines, Maryland struggled to maintain possession.

“In the second half, we were just defending,” defender Johannes Bergmann. “We couldn’t keep a ball.”

The Terps needed a win or draw to host a Big Ten quarterfinal match at Ludwig Field before the tournament comes to College Park for the semifinals and final.

With just under a minute left in regulation, forward Eric Matzelevich struck a shot from outside the box that was bound for the upper-right corner of the net to extend the game, but goalkeeper Owen Finnerty made the desperation save to deny the chance.

The stop cemented Maryland’s fate as a road team for the quarterfinal round. But perhaps more significant than a home game for the hurting the Terps’ squad is six days of recovery, the longest period of rest since early September.

“Any extra rest we can get is appreciated and it’s big for us. At this point, every game could be our last,” defender Ben Di Rosa said. “So we’ve got to just not leave anything on the table, and use our rest to go full throttle.”

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