After a devastatingly close loss to Northwestern in the Big Ten tournament, Maryland men’s soccer is facing its next challenge — the NCAA tournament.
The four-time national champions will host Long Island (11-4-4) on Thursday, the NCAA announced on its tournament selection show. The Terps will have three days to prepare to face the Sharks in Maryland’s 39th tournament appearance, their 21st straight.
Coach Sasho Cirovski guided his squad to a 12-3-2 regular season record before the team’s unexpected loss to the Wildcats, losing 3-2 in penalty kicks. Penn State, who the Terps lost to 3-2 on Oct. 26, would go on to capture the Big Ten tournament title and an automatic bid to the tournament.
[Penalty problems haunt Maryland men’s soccer after early Big Ten tournament exit]
Maryland is led by Big Ten Midfielder of the Year Ben Bender, who had a breakout performance this season and managed seven goals. Followed by a host of emerging underclassmen such as Caden Stafford, William Kulvik and Joshua Bolma, the Terps have an encouraging young group of strikers.
Senior Brett St. Martin — a contributing member of their 2018 national championship team — looks to be an imposing leadership presence throughout Maryland’s postseason run. The defender earned placement as a first team All-Big Ten defender this season.
Coming off one of their longest breaks of the season — a consequence of losing to Northwestern — the Terps look to be fresh for their first-round matchup and may manage to get some of their injured players back on the field this week. In the search of its fifth national title, Maryland should be close to full health.
If the Terps are victorious against the Sharks, they will travel to face Saint Louis in the second round.