Ahead of a showdown of epic proportions between No. 7 Maryland men’s soccer and No. 22 Indiana, the starting lineup hosted a new face. Defender Ryan Blumberg drew the start for Senior Day and what a road it has been for the redshirt junior to get to this point.
Prior to Sunday’s match, Blumberg had played a total of nine minutes for the Terrapins after enduring a collection of injuries and battling eligibility issues. The talented center back was due to make an impact on the program he had committed to back in 2016 and that moment came in the 49th minute.
With the score locked up at zero, midfielder Ben Bender sent a corner kick into the box, where Blumberg rose up and headed in the game-breaking goal. It was a euphoric moment that seemed bigger than the game as the Aussie was crowded by his teammates.
GOAL!!!!— Maryland Men’s Soccer (@MarylandMSoccer) October 31, 2021
RYAN BLUMBERG AN ABSOLUTE DREAM!
He's played nine minutes in his entire career before today. Unbelievable. pic.twitter.com/bLDgQRhN1H
“I think that was kind of the commemorative moment of the season so far,” defender Nick Richardson said. “I’m just so proud for him, it just shows all the hard work that does pay off. You just can’t really put it into words.”
As quickly as Blumberg was riding the high of scoring the gigantic goal, the realization of a dream come true finally settled in as tears began to flow.
Head coach Sasho Cirovski kept Blumberg in for a few more minutes to let the moment soak in before subbing him out in the 53rd minute. Blumberg’s embrace with Cirovski was the picturesque moment for a player who has battled through so much to get to this point.
“For him to get a goal in the fashion that he did ... I think was the stuff dreams are made of,” Cirovski said. “Like we tell all of our players, you don’t know when your moment will come. Be ready for it. Today his moment came. He was ready for it.”
Upon committing to Maryland, Blumberg was given a preliminary trial with the Nike Football Academy to which he impressed and was given the chance to sign, leaving his Maryland career in flux before it had begun.
He chose the professional route, eventually earning a contract with Charlton, a League One club from southeast London. His status as a Terp was all but clouded, but he opted to give collegiate soccer a try after spending a year in England.
His arrival was a welcome addition for Cirovski’s squad coming off of a national championship, but his eligibility eliminated his chances to take the field in 2019.
Further, after sitting out his first year with the program, the coronavirus pandemic set back his debut even more. Then injuries piled up as the spring season saw Blumberg generate just nine minutes in one appearance.
The obstacles piled up on Blumberg, leaving his career in doubt.
“I’ve had my battles with eligibility and then COVID and kind of trained the whole time throughout and then obviously had this injury come up in just really an unlucky time,” Blumberg said. “Over the past year, it’s kind of just been up and down ... I didn’t think I was gonna play again, to be honest.”
Who could blame him? With so much stacked against the promising defender over the past few years, throwing in the towel seemed like a last-ditch effort to finally have some control over the projection of his soccer career.
But he kept plugging away. Backed by his teammates, the trainers and coaching staff, Blumberg made good on his commitment to the Terrapin program by giving the team a moment neither he nor they will ever forget.
“It’s an amazing story, it’s one that should be inspirational to every Division I soccer athlete to not quit and not give up,” Cirovski said. “But it’s also about the program not quitting or giving up on him either I think he always knew that. He’s contributed in so many different ways, but today was able to contribute on the field and and have a special moment.”
Blumberg’s goal is a moment that will live in infamy and one that can be a big spark for a Terrapin team with aspirations of a national title. It comes full circle for Blumberg too, as his decision to turn pro left him off of the 2018 national championship team, making this year’s end-of-season prospects a fitting end to his emotional journey.
A new chapter is being written in Blumberg’s storybook, but the pages have yet to be filled as the Terrapins look to ride the momentum and march on into the postseason.