Maryland men’s soccer lined up differently against Michigan than it had all season.
Instead of opting for his preferred 4-3-3 formation, coach Sasho Cirovski changed things up. He lined up his team in a 4-4-2.
The two attacker setup created multiple opportunities for the Terps through the middle of the field. Cirovski’s squad exploited the space they created early on after conceding.
Maryland (1-2-2, 0-0-1 Big Ten) scored two first half goals but couldn’t maintain its advantage in the second half, drawing Michigan (1-2-3, 0-0-1 Big Ten) in its Big Ten opener, 2-2.
“I’m very disappointed with the result today.” Cirovski said. “We did a number of things well enough to win this game.”
The Terps entered the contest conceding three goals in five games. But in just less than 15 minutes, the Wolverines found an early breakthrough.
Michigan midfielder Quin Rogers collected the ball in midfield before lofting it down the left flank. Luca Costabile misplayed the ball, allowing Michael Leon to be through on goal for the Wolverines.
Leon took a touch inside the box to create space away from Bjarne Thiesen and calmly slotted his shot past Jaime Lowell in goal. His second goal of the season put the Wolverines ahead early.
“Once again, we gifted the opposition an easy goal, and we put ourselves in a hole early in the game,” Cirovski said.
The Terps searched for an equalizer through forwards Stefan Copetti and Max Riley.
In the different 4-4-2 formation, Copetti and Riley lead the line up top. That became the catalyst for a first half comeback.
Both forwards found pockets of space in the center of the field alongside Kimani Stewart-Baynes and Kenny Quist-Therson, who took up spaces in the wider areas of midfield. The constant pressure forced the Michigan back line to retreat, or commit fouls in dangerous areas for the Maryland attack.
Quist-Therson was fouled high up the pitch after another passage of play in the attacking third, giving the Terps a free kick in a dangerous area.
Stewart-Baynes whipped the ball into the box and found the feet of Quist-Therson. The freshman turned towards goal and placed his effort into the bottom corner for his first career goal, tying the game for the Terps.
Ten minutes later, another Terp opened his goal scoring account.
Costabile intercepted a Michigan pass in the midfield and passed it forward to Copetti, who moved out wide in place of Stewart-Baynes when Luke van Heukelum entered as a substitute.
Copetti played a perfectly weighted through ball to his forward counterpart as van Heukelum darted toward goal. The freshman dribbled past Michigan goalie Isaiah Goldson, who came off his line to make a save. But van Heukelum took a touch past the rushing Goldson before firing his shot into an empty net to give the Terps the lead.
“I think we scored two great goals today,” Lowell said. “I think our offense is starting to get going.”
Maryland began the second half in its normal 4-3-3 formation. Michigan would level the score quickly after.
Bryce Blevins received the ball at the top of the box. The midfielder took one touch towards goal before powering a shot past Lowell to tie the score at 2-2.
“I think they’re two preventable goals … but I mean that’s going to happen during the season,” Lowell said.
Maryland then went chasing the game-winning goal.
Cross after cross entered the Michigan box, but the Terps couldn’t find the back of the net a third time. And after William Kulvik received two yellow cards in the second half, Maryland played the final 10 minutes down a man, but still on the front foot.
Maryland had one last opportunity to grab a late winner in the last minute of the match. The Terps swung a free kick into the box, but the Michigan back line held firm.
The draw denied the Terps their fourth consecutive win over the Wolverines, and Maryland started its defense of the regular season Big Ten championship with one point instead of three.
“I think now, it’s just up to us and how we respond and make sure that doesn’t happen again,” Lowell said.