COLLEGE PARK, MD - - In a match between two top-ten teams, #9 Maryland prevailed over #7 Louisville in the season's opening match, defeating the Cardinals thanks to great efforts from Schillo Tshuma and Sunny Jane in a 3-0 win on a rainy day at Ludwig Field.
Maryland put together a very strong game thanks to a great defensive effort, strong wing play, and inspired substitutions from Sasho Cirovski. Freshmen Mikey Ambrose and Dakota Edwards got the start on the back line and played very well alongside established seniors London Woodberry and Taylor Kemp, helping secure the shutout.
"I thought they were exceptional," Cirovski said. "I thought the freshmen were great and I thought the seniors were great, and I thought everybody else in between was very good too. So we had a lot of contributions, we know we can play better, but tonight wasn't going to be a beautiful game, not with the conditions the way they were, and also the great opponent."
The Terps got an early goal in the the ninth minute, when Sunny Jane took the ball down the left flank and crossed it into the box, where Tshuma gathered it and slotted it past Joachim Ball with his left foot for his first career goal.
Maryland scored their second goal of the match in the 30th minute, with the help of some timely substitutions. Tshuma brought the ball down the pitch and passed it off for a give and go, taking the ball down the left flank before crossing it into the box. The well-placed ball met the head of Jake Pace, who flicked it back to Dan Metzger, who was able to drill it in for the 2-0 lead. Pace and Metzger had just entered the game off the bench.
"I thought they really came in, really understood their job and they did well," Cirovski said.
Maryland almost scored a third goal late in the second half, as a beautiful ball from Patrick Mullins found Jake Pace, who scored past Ball. A late whistle ruled the goal offsides.
The Terps then sealed it near the end of the match, as another great run and cross from Sunny Jane ended in a John Stertzer goal, giving the final score of 3-0. Jane had a great game, finishing with two assists and quite a few attacking runs, giving right back Brock Granger and midfielder Ade Akinsanya fits throughout the match.
"My mentality was really just to win the game," Jane said. "And show this school and everybody who support it that we have a different mentality this year and we're ready to make things happen; and mostly I just wanted to make everybody look good because they all make me look good too."
Louisville was able to stay in the game in the first half thanks to their presence in the center of the pitch. Preseason Big East co-defensive player of the year Andrew Farrell was a force in the middle, and center midfielder Paolo DelPiccolo had a great first half as a deep-lying playmaker. Maryland was able to limit DelPiccolo's effectiveness in the second half, as they added a second holding midfielder and prevented the Cardinals from feeding him the ball.
Sophomore Daniel Keller played well as a holding midfielder, and him and Farrell helped stifle star forward Patrick Mullins, at least in the first half. He got a few shots off in the second half and played that aformentioned great ball to Pace, but was unable to find the net. Cirovski gave credit to Farrell for a fantastic game.
"Farrell is an outstanding player," he said. "He was real good last year and he's just a very poised, a very hard player, very honest."
Even without a top-notch performance from Mullins, Maryland's depth and athleticism proved to be too much for the Cardinals. Rain fell hard throughout the game, but the Terps still managed to put together a clinical display of finishing and defense.
"The rain always makes it a different game, but I mean you have to adapt," Stertzer said. "You have to embrace it, and both teams have to play in it."
Cirovski said the game was closer than the scoreline appeared, and praised Louisville as one of the top teams in the country.
"I thought our team showed a tremendous amount of grit tonight against a very, very good Louisville team," he said. "3-0 is a flattering scoreline, but we'll take it, and it was a very even game. We really worked hard and stayed connected throughout the game, we didn't panic, and obviously we had some quality finishes tonight."
Maryland's tough opening stretch of the season continues Friday night at home against #2 UCLA. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.