"Obviously I'm very disappointed with the result. We squandered way too many chances in this game," so said Maryland's men's head soccer coach Sasho Cirovski perfectly summing up Tuesday night's 1-1 tie with the Old Dominion Monarchs at Ludwig Field in College Park.
And the Terps did have many chances starting early in the match after an early foul by the visitors from Norfolk. Mikey Ambrose played the ball into Patrick Mullins but the senior's header sailed high just over two and a half minutes in beginning the night of frustration. Maryland continued to force pressure and very early in the sixth minute, another cross from Ambrose to Mullins set up another dangerous situation but just as Mullins turned on the ball a Monarchs defender stepped in the path of his shot. The Terrapins' ongoing aggressiveness resulted in the first corner of the match played in by Sunny Jane just as the clock ticked to thirty-nine minutes to play in the half. However, freshman defender Alex Crognale couldn't get enough power behind his header and Monarchs goalkeeper Sean Stowe easily made the save. The Terps created enough pressure for two additional corner kicks before the half was eighteen minutes old but Schillo Tshuma's shot went wide on the first and Stow punched out Jane's entry on the second.
As the half wore on, ODU began to counter and found some seams in Maryland's defense. The first came in the nineteenth minute on a dangerous cross but Terrapins keeper Zack Steffen was up to the task and deflected the shot wide and over the back line leading to the Monarchs' first and second corners. The first resulted in no shot and the second was well defended by Tsubasa Endoh whose play on both ends of the field was solid throughout.
The litany of missed Maryland chances continued. After a Sunny Jane corner got pushed out to the top of the box, Dan Metzger couldn't quite turn on a relatively open look to the goal. Tshuma had his shot blocked off another corner in the thirty-sixth minute and Mullins' follow off the carom with Stowe on the ground went just wide. Maryland's play after a tripping foul on ODU just left of the box, led to an open chance for Jake Pace that the senior blasted just wide of the goal. The half ended with Maryland dominating every statistic except the score which stood tied at nil-nil.
Old Dominion, which has scored the bulk of their early season goals in the second half started that period looking to penetrate Maryland's defense but again Steffen performed solidly in goal. The Terps didn't lose their attacking mentality either and their best chance came in the sixty-ninth minute when Pace played a fine through ball to Endoh who made s perfect entry pass to Tshuma. Unfortunately for Terrapin fans the sophomore drove his shot high.
The Monarchs broke the tie in the 74th minute when their entry on a corner kick glanced off the back of Crognale's head past Steffen of an own goal and a 1-0 lead for the visitors. The goal energized and ignited ODU and they came quickly back at Steffen but the Terrapin freshman made an acrobatic save to keep the deficit manageable. Just over ten minutes later his teammates rewarded that effort as Sunny Jane played a cross to Jake Pace deep in the box. Pace turned and played the ball out to David Kabelik and the sophomore from Budapest capitalized on the open look driving his shot into the center of the net from ten yards out.
Looking to avoid their fourth overtime in seven games, the injury depleted Terps created two solid chances as the clock wound down. The first came in the eighty-eighth minute when, some solid play in the midfield by Jereme Raley allowed him to play a through ball to Jake Pace but Stowe saved the senior's shot at the near post. With just over half a minute remaining in the second period, some great work by Mullins to retain possession of the ball at the top of the eighteen against two ODU defenders opened some space for Sunny Jane but Stowe again came up with the save.
Fighting their tired legs, Maryland was the aggressor in the overtimes. After Steffen made a relatively easy save on a header off an Old Dominion corner kick, Kabelik worked his way through two defenders for Maryland's best chance in the first overtime but his shot sailed over the goal. Schillo Tshuma had the Terps best opportunity in the second overtime as his shot / pass got behind Stowe but dribbled just wide and despite two corners in the last two minutes, Maryland failed to find the net and had to settle for the 1-1 tie.
Despite their early struggles, Cirovski still believes in his squad. "We're going to raise our level. We're putting them through the ringer with tough game after tough game. I have 100% faith that it's going to come. We passed one test today coming back after the soft own goal and finding a way to score. We'll keep pushing them and it's going to pay off."
Terrapin fans will have a chance to see if there's a short term payoff when the Pitt Panthers come to College Park in an ACC match up September 27 at 7:30 pm.