For the second consecutive night a Maryland soccer team celebrated senior night at Ludwig Field. Thursday night the women's team feted five seniors and came away with an important 3-1 win. Friday it was the men's turn as the Terrapins honored seven seniors in a pre-game ceremony and the Terps came out on the long end of a 2-1 game against the NC State Wolfpack with two of those seniors registering goals.
As is often the case in these emotional moments, the Terps started slowly and NC State made them pay scoring on two headers off a free kick just six minutes and forty-five seconds in. The goal brought Maryland out of their doldrums and they began to attack and defend fiercely. The first chance came when Mikias Eticha played a near perfect through ball to Patrick Mullins. The senior turned on the jets and got behind the State defense but he'd accelerated a bit too quickly and couldn't control the pass knocking it over the end line instead. Maryland had another dangerous opportunity in the twenty-first minute when Michael Sauers played a cross from the left side deep into the box that was played out to Eticha but NC State keeper Fabian Otte made the save on Eticha's low drive. The Terps continued to put pressure on the Wolfpack defense picking up four corner kicks in the course of play but failing to capitalize. Finally with just over two minutes to play in the half, Alex Shinsky and Sunny Jane, two of three Terrapins to come off the bench and give Maryland some quality minutes, connected on a goal to knot the score. Shinsky picked up a pass on the left side wide of the box. He dribbled down the left side while being closely marked. Eventually, he won the ball clear and played a long cross to Jane who drove a one timer from twelve yards past Otte into the right corner of the net. After a long drought, it was the senior's second goal in three games. "I had a lot of confidence coming in and in practice I've been working on being in the right spots and being able to front the goal and be in good position to put the ball in the net or assist somebody." The goal obviously gave the Terps a lift as they went into halftime tied at one.
Maryland didn't need log to carry their momentum in the second half scoring just more than a minute and a half into the action. The sequence started when State fouled Schillo Tshuma and he made a run toward the goal setting up a free kick from twenty-five yards. "Me and Mikey (Ambrose) were lining up and we thought the goalkeeper was cheating a little bit on his side," said game winning goal scorer Patrick Mullins. "We thought, let's have a go on his side. As long as I strike it well, put it on frame and give it a chance and it went in. He couldn't recover." Though they never stopped attacking, the Terps also began to work to protect the slim lead. While the Wolfpack managed four shots to only one in the first half only one truly threatened. That came in the seventy fifth minute when Travis Wannemuehler had an angle from the left side in a one on one with Terrapin keeper Zack Steffen from about ten yards. But the freshman came off his line to confidently challenge the shot and used his length to make the game saving stop and preserve the 2-1 Maryland win.
As Coach Sasho Cirovski said afterward, "What a great way to celebrate senior night. To have two of your seniors put the ball in the back of the net in great fashion today. I'm really proud of this team. There was a lot of emotion today with a large group of seniors and I think we were a little shaky at the start. But we stayed composed and we really took over the game and I think rightfully deserved to get the victory against a very good NC State team."
Both seniors we talked with gave a shout out to the Crew. Mullins saying, "The Crew will always have a place in my heart no matter what. I love them to death." And Jane added, "I love those guys. They give us a great atmosphere. I think they're the best fans in the country. I'm so thankful for them and everything they've done for us."
The Terps wrap up the regular season a week from Friday at Virginia Tech before facing the gauntlet of the ACC Tournament.