The No. 3 Maryland Terrapins will play its last regular season away game at Wisconsin on Friday night.
Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski said that there was nothing different about the type of preparation when asked if there was any extra incentive leading into the last test on the road.
“There is nothing different. We’ve played so many good teams both at home and on the road now,” Cirovski said.
With an all-time record of 6-0-0 against Wisconsin (7-2-3, 3-1-1), Cirovski has the opportunity to become just the ninth coach of all time to win 400 collegiate games.
One thing that was different for Maryland’s preparation leading up to the game was that for the first time all season, the Terps (9-0-3, 4-0-2) had a week off since the last game. With all 11 of the previous games coming off just three to four days of rest, the week was certainly deserved.
“It helps a lot [to get that rest] because you have more time to recover, sleep, get some treatment if you need it and get some actual training in,” senior midfielder Jake Rozhansky said.
Junior left back Chase Gasper agreed that having more time to practice really helps.
“It’s nice to actually play soccer again at practice instead of just rehabbing your body,” Gasper said.
Cirovski pointed that although the travel day made the week’s rest shorter than it actually was, the team was still prepared for the Badgers.
“We are doing the right balance of getting both the body and the mind refreshed,” Cirovski said.
Cirovski pointed to the attacking threats on Wisconsin as well as their experience, returning 21 players from last season as key challenges, and even said the Badgers should have been in last year’s NCAA Tournament.
With the longest break between games this season, the Terps will need that rest to combat Wisconsin’s experience, something that will play into the Badgers’ game plan.
“They are going to try to catch us on the counter, so we will have to watch that,” Rozhansky said. “…when we have the ball, we have to just make sure we are careful that we take our chances and don’t leave ourselves too open for them to counter us.”
Rozhansky, who is currently tied for 11th in the country with seven assists, said the key on the attack will be movement off the ball and finishing chances. If the Terps do not finish scoring opportunities, the Badgers have plenty of firepower on the other end.
Senior forward Chris Mueller will be the player to watch for the Badgers as he leads the Big Ten in almost every offensive statistical category, including a conference-leading six goals. Gasper said the Terps know how to prevent Mueller’s Badgers counter attacking play, as most of Maryland’s opponents have used the same tactics.
“It’s just about having the right mentality for everyone working as hard as they can to get back and behind the ball,” Gasper said. “Every guy has done that so far this season so I think we are ready for it.”
As the only nationally televised game this season, Cirovski spoke of the magnitude of the match.
“We know that this is an important match both with Big Ten and national implications for both squads, Cirovski said. “We think it is going to be a heck of a match and we’re ready for it.”
Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. in Madison, Wisconsin and can be watched on ESPNU.
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