By Olivia Janik
Midfielder Ben Bender racked up his third straight game with a goal in the second half of Maryland men’s soccer’s 3-1 win against Michigan State Friday night.
Maryland’s decisive offense led to their fourth straight win and propelled them to the top of the Big Ten’s standings with just two more games in the regular season.
Maryland, currently ranked seventh overall, looked to come out hot in hopes of finishing the season strong to secure home advantage for the postseason tournament.
And the Terps did just that.
Less than two minutes into the game, forward Brayan Padilla netted a goal to give Maryland an early lead. Padilla’s kick bounced past goalkeeper Lance McGrane, a big blunder for the Spartans early in the contest.
Capitalizing off of their early lead, the Terps took control and kept the ball away from their end for most of the first half.
The half was bookended by Maryland goals. Freshman forward Joshua Bolma scored with less than five minutes to go, after a smart pass from forward Caden Stafford to Bolma and some fast footwork led to the second goal of the game.
However, the Terps’ swift pace came to an abrupt halt towards the end of the first half. Midfielder Malcolm Johnston was kicked in the head by Spartan forward, Farai Mutatu, prompting a frightening 20-minute injury delay. Johnston was carted off the field and Mutatu received a yellow card.
The Spartans came back fighting in the second half. Forward Zach Babiak scored his first goal of the season with a swift kick to the top corner of the goal just 61 seconds in.
Michigan State brought the fire with two more shots on goal early in the second half. But Maryland goalkeeper Niklas Neumann kept his cool and got his second save of the game.
Reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, midfielder Ben Bender was subbed in at the start of the second half and delivered Maryland’s third goal of the game. Bender positioned himself in front of the goal to be ready for the pass from forward Jacen Russell-Rowe to kick the ball straight into the net.
After scoring, Bender ran straight to the camera to flash an M for his teammate Johnston.
And from there, it was smooth sailing for the visiting Terps. Following Bender’s goal, neither team found the back of the net as Maryland extended its winning streak to four games.