The Maryland Terrapins and Michigan State Spartans faced off Friday afternoon in the second semifinal of the Big Ten men's soccer tournament for the right to face the Indiana Hoosiers in Sunday's final. The Hoosiers advanced with a 2-1 win over Ohio State earlier in the day. The Terps and the Spartans are teams that approach the game with very different philosophies and officially, neither was more successful than the other. The teams played to a 0-0 tie that was eventually decided in favor of Maryland who won a 3-2 penalty kick shootout.
First half - A bit of deja vu
The first half of the Big Ten men's soccer semifinal between the Maryland Terrapins and the Michigan State Spartans was, in some ways, reminiscent of the second half of the first game between the two teams. Though that game was played on a Friday night nearly two months ago, the Terps had control of the run of play for most of the second half but couldn't penetrate the Spartans' defense to gain the equalizing goal after they fell behind early in the game's ninth minute.
Friday afternoon, Maryland had control of almost the entire first half but couldn't find a way to finish against Michigan State's defense. The Terrapins picked up two corner kicks before the game was three minutes old and possessed the ball for nearly all of the first fifteen minutes. While the Spartans had some touches in their offensive half it wasn't until this point that the Spartans could actually claim possession in their half.Michigan State didn't get their first shot until the 28th minute
Despite four corner kicks and three close in set pieces after Michigan State fouls, Maryland couldn't capitalize on their opportunities including one in the 37th minute on a close in shot by Jereme Raley that forced MSU's Ken Krolicki off with a bloody nose. In the 38th minute a strong run by Mael Corboz gave Maryland another opportunity but his shot went just wide.
For the half, Maryland had four corner kicks and Michigan State none. Maryland had seven shots and Michigan State two. But in the most important area, goals, the teams were equal at zero.
Second half - Chances and no scores
The beginning of the second half shaped up a bit differently from the first. The Spartans had a bit more possession and pressed forward on a few occasions. In fact, MSU had the first two shots of the half. The second came in the 54th minute and was the most dangerous chance for the Spartans but Jay Champan's shot went wide.
Maryland countered quickly and developed a great opportunity for Alex Shinsky but his shot toward the post also went barely wide. Though the Terps were not quite as dominant, all the offensive pressure came from Maryland. The Spartans had only one shot on goal for regulation and that came in the 85th minute.
Meanwhile, Maryland missed two excellent chances. Both came from Tsubasa Endoh. The first, off his foot, came after he made a strong run in the 79th minute through three Michigan State players and blasted a shot from about 22 yards that went high. The second, off his head, came in the 90th minute. Endoh had served in a corner from the right that MSU failed to clear. The ball wend wide left to Mael Corboz who served a ball back into the box that Endoh headed high. The Terps and Spartans headed to overtime.
Perhaps it's part of their identity as a defensive squad looking primarily to score on counters, but throughout both overtimes, Michigan State seemed content to allow the game to move into a penalty kick situation. A look at the stats will see Maryland goalkeeper Zack Steffen credited with his only save in the 96th minute but it was not one that challenged the talented sophomore.
Maryland's best chance came in the second overtime. Once again, less than a minute remained and once again the chance came from the foot of Tsubasa Endoh. He had some space just inside the upper, right corner of the box and aimed his shot at the far post. Once again, it rolled just wide.
The Penalty Kicks
The first chance came for Michigan State's Zach Carroll. Carroll calmly put the ball into the upper right 90 as Steffen dove left. Advantage, MSU. Penalty Kick specialist Mael Corboz got the equalizer for Maryland driving a low shot just inside the left post past a diving Zach Bennett. Corboz said afterward, "Obviously I have confidence coming into the situation five for five but then it becomes something of a mind game. Tonight I knew if I hit my spot the goalie wouldn't be able to save it and even though he drove correctly, fortunately, it went in."
Jay Chapman stepped up for Michigan State. Steffen watched his approach, dove to his left and made the save sending the Crew into a frenzy. "I read them," said Steffen. "It's their body shape and the way they open their hips and close their hips." Maryland's Alex Shinsky approached his shot with a chance to slide the advantage to Maryland. He did just that with a bullet into the upper right ninety.
Fatai Alashe overpowered his shot by Steffen. Bennett guessed right on Endoh's shot but it caromed off his left arm into the net thus protecting Maryland's advantage. Steffen then faced off against Tim Kreutz and once again, Steffen came up the winner diving to his left and blocking Kreutz's attempt.
Mikey Ambrose stepped up with a chance to salt the game away. This time, however, it was the Spartans' Zach who came up big giving his squad one last hope. The hope was extinguished when Adam Montague pushed his shot wide of the left post. The Terps would advance. In Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski's words, "I'm extremely happy to be advancing. I know this will go down as a tie but it felt like a win because we played extremely well against one of the top teams in the country."
Next up for Maryland is a rematch with Indiana. The Terps edged the Hoosiers 2-1 last month in Bloomington. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 Sunday and will be broadcast on BTN.