After beating Rutgers 3-2 in New Brunswick on November 5th to capture the Big Ten regular season title, Maryland played them again just four days later. This time Maryland was hosting Rutgers in the Big Ten Quarterfinals. It is highly unusual to see two teams play each other twice in five days but that is exactly what happened between the Big Ten's two newest members.
There wasn't much action in the first half as both teams were feeling each other out. About 25 minutes in things heated up for Maryland.
On a Maryland corner kick with around 20 minutes to play in the first half, Jereme Raley got his left foot on a loose ball in the box but kicked it high over the goal. Raley put his hands over head after his miss knowing that he had missed a great opportunity.
Maryland continued to attack offensively and got a corner kick with under 15 minutes play in the first half. Rutgers cleared it out of the box but the Terps retained possession. Alex Shinksy took the ball into the box and was taken down by Rutgers defender Ross Tetro earning Maryland a penalty kick. Shinksy got up and Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski sent Mael Corboz, a transfer from Rutgers, to take the penalty kick. He drilled his ninth goal of the season, including a perfect five for five on penalty kicks, into the right side of the goal as Rutgers goalkeeper David Greczek dove left. The score, coming with a little under 14 minutes to play in the half, sent the Maryland faithful into a frenzy. "He handled himself with great class," Cirvoski said.
There were some other good chances by both squads in the first half but nothing came of them. Mikey Ambrose took a corner kick with a little over 10:30 left in the first half but Greczek saved it. Dan Metzger launched a rocket from just outside of the box with 7:50 left in the half but it was far right of the goal. J.P Correa got the last good opportunity of the half with a hard shot with under a minute remaining but it was right at Maryland goalie Zack Steffen.
David Kabelik had the first great chance of the second half when Mikias Eticha threaded a ball through the Rutgers defense. Kabelik's timing was nearly perfect but he needed a bit more touch on his dribble. He hit it a little too far ahead of him and Greczek jumped on it just as Kabelik was getting to the ball.
Rutgers very nearly scored the equalizer with 31:30 to play in the game when Maryland almost had an own goal. Mikey Ambrose was under pressure and was trying to play the ball back to Steffen and the Rutgers forward ended up poking it but it came out almost like a shot at Steffen's chest. Steffen said that other than that play the defense communicated very well, "We stayed compact. We stayed connected. We helped each other out and had each other's backs."
George Campbell scored a beauty of a goal with 15:17 left in the game to push the lead to 2-0. Jereme Raley was just outside the right side of the box and played a great cross into the box. Campbell didn't even let it touch the ground, one-timing it off of his foot past Greczek for the score. Neither team had a great opportunity after that and Maryland hung on for the comfortable win.
"I think it was a very well-deserved, hard fought victory," said Cirovski after the game.
Hard fought is definitely an apt way to describe the contest. The game was incredibly physical. The refs were very quick to call fouls and seven yellow cards were given out. Only two of those went against the Terps. Maryland dominated play in both halves and out-shot Rutgers 13-4 and had a 6-2 advantage on corner kicks.
Cambell said that there were some pros and cons to playing Rutgers again so quickly, saying, "Playing them back to back was strange for us but at the same time, we knew exactly who they were." Maryland seems to know exactly who they are at this point as well. They have not lost in a little over a month (October 5th in overtime at Northwestern) and they are riding a nine match win streak where they are out-scoring their opponents 23-6.
On to the Semi-finals
Maryland will host the #5 seed, Michigan State, who beat 4th seeded Penn State 1-0 in State College, in the Big Ten Tournament semi-finals. Maryland will host both the semis and the finals at Ludwig Field next week on Friday and Sunday.