The Maryland Terrapins and UMBC Retrievers met at Ludwig Field Sunday night in the second round of the NCAA men's soccer tournament. The game was a rematch of a contest played to a 0-0 tie in early September. Because it was a tournament game, it could not end in a tie. The Retrievers ended a string of 179 scoreless minutes between the two teams this year and held on for a 1-0 win ending Maryland's dreams of a third consecutive College Cup appearance.
First half - Two chances and another missed handball
As has been the case for most of the games in the eleven game unbeaten string Maryland brought into the game, the Terps took an aggressive approach from the opening kick. Maryland controlled the ball in the offensive half for long stretches of the period. The pressure paid off in two quality scoring chances for the Terrapins - both coming off free kicks.
The first came in the 14th minute when Alex Shinsky drew a foul just to the left of the box about 15 yards from the back line. As one would expect, the free kick duties fell to the boot of Mael Corboz. Corboz curved a shot toward the near post that challenged Retrievers' keeper Billy Heavner but the freshman was up to the task punching the ball clear.
The second came in the 21st minute. This time Michael Sauers drew the foul and set Corboz up for the free kick just left of the circle from about 22 yards. The junior hit a low drive around the Retrievers' wall but Heavner made the save diving to his left.
Late in the half, the Terrapins again mounted their attack down the left side. A UMBC defender fell in the box and the ball first hit his forearm. He followed that by putting his hand on the ball as he tried to get up. The referee either failed to see the infraction or failed to see the play as an infraction and did not call a hand ball.
The half finished in a 0-0 tie, making 155 minutes of competition between the teams without a goal. For the half, Maryland finished with five shots to UMBC's three. However, none of the visitors' shots were on goal while Heavner made three saves.
Second half - Upsetting the roles
Perhaps it had something to do with the end of the field. Perhaps the Retrievers felt more secure having survived the Terrapins' first half onslaught. Perhaps they received a stern halftime lecture from their coach, Pete Caringi. Whatever factor or factors came into play, the teams seemed to have switched roles for the first twenty plus minutes of the second half.
The Retrievers got shots, shots on goal, corner kick opportunities, and drew fouls on the Terrapins. The Terps survived the first wave and began to move forward again in the 67th minute. "I don't have an answer why we didn't come out with more energy," said Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski. Maryland drew a pair of corner kicks and had a dangerous chance or two but the game remained scoreless.
In the 70th minute, UMBC found the way to penetrate Maryland's defense. The Retrievers got the ball deep in the box after two Terrapins defenders went to the turf fighting for the ball. Maryland goalkeeper Zack Steffen came far off his line to make a spectacular sprawling foot save on a shot by UMBC senior forward Kay Banjo from about eight yards. However, the ball caromed off Steffen's foot directly to a streaking Malcolm Harris who knocked the ball into the wide open goal. "This game was going to take an effort goal," Cirovski said. "They ended up picking up a loose ball. We were unbalanced and they ended up finding a way to get the ball in the back of the net."
Over the game's final 20 minutes, and particularly during the final eight minutes or so, the Terps played with an almost palpable sense of desperation. However, both Heavner and the Retrievers' defense withstood every bit of pressure Maryland could muster holding on for the 1-0 win. "They're a stingy defense and they're hard to score on," said Cirovski.
UMBC advanced to the third round for the first time in program history and Maryland's string of appearances in the third round ended at twelve. Talking about his squad, Cirovski said, "Needless to say we're extremely gutted with the result today. They were obviously a very highly motivated group. I have nothing but pride and great feelings about my team. I love them dearly and I feel deeply for all my players especially my seniors. It's a tough way to go out but I'm proud of the way we handled ourselves when the final whistle blew. Our players handled it with great dignity and class and I'm extremely proud of them."