No. 7 Maryland men’s soccer held a 1-0 lead at halftime, but once sophomore defender William Kulvik committed an own goal in the second half, things took a turn for the worse.
With the game knotted at one, High Point cashed in on a golden opportunity in the 76th minute as the Terps lined up for a free kick. Maryland could not hold possession as the Panthers intercepted a pass and turned up field. High Point freshman midfielder Brendan Krueger led the break before dishing it off to senior forward Sebastian Chalbaud, who attempted a shot from 17 yards out.
The shot bounced off senior goalkeeper Niklas Neumann but still floated into the net for the score, putting the Panthers ahead for good.
High Point survived a late-game attack from Maryland as the Terps suffered their second loss of the season, 2-1, in College Park on Monday night.
“I’m beyond frustrated with the result. Once again, we gifted the first goal [and] allowed High Point to develop confidence,” head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “We played a tremendous first half. We’re in control the whole game. We limit the opposition to really no other chances. And yet we end up with two goals against us. So, right now we are the most gracious team in America, we keep giving away soft goals.
Monday night marked another slow start for Maryland, as neither team attempted a shot through the first nine minutes.
Junior forward Stefan Copetti recorded the game’s first shot on goal in the 10th minute, but it was easily scooped up by Northwestern goalkeeper Holden Trent.
High Point got deep into Maryland territory in the 16th minute, but the Terps’ backline held strong and created an opportunity of their own.
Senior forward Hunter George received the ball about 70 yards away from the net and took off. He weaved in between High Point defenders and even nutmegged one in the process. Once he got to the 18-yard box, George lined up his shot and snaked it past Trent for the score.
Now holding an early lead, the Terps relaxed and played a bit more conservative.
Neumann got involved in the 29th minute as he recorded his first save of the game. Chalbaud attempted to lift the ball over Neumann’s head, but it was not high enough, as the keeper swatted it away.
The final opportunity of the first half belonged to Maryland, when Dillon drilled a line drive toward the bottom left corner of the net. Trent was able to make the diving save, though, preventing the Terps from taking a multi-goal lead.
The first half was a defensive battle that saw just six combined shots, prompting both coaches to adjust their game plan during the break.
Maryland’s lead did not survive the second half, as Kulvik made a crucial mistake. As the ball trickled towards the goal area, Kulvik attempted to clear it and prevent a potential shot on goal. Unfortunately, Kulvik’s clear became the shot on goal as it sailed past Neumann and into the net.
“On a reasonably innocent looking ball that I don’t think anybody was gonna get on the end of,” Cirovski said. “[It was] an instinctive decision there that William made and, you know, it was in the back of our net.”
With the score knotted at one, the Terps had to regain their aggression.
Maryland marched down the field in the 53rd minute and was able to get Trent out of position. Redshirt sophomore midfielder Joe Suchecki charged the ball and headed it toward the center of the net, but all-conference defender Finn McRobb slid into Trent’s place and booted the ball away.
Redshirt sophomore Joshua Bolma and George each had prime opportunities in the following five minutes, but they were both a few feet off target.
High Point took advantage of these missed opportunities in the 76th minute when a Maryland free kick backfired. Dillon turned the ball over as the Panthers stampeded down the field. Chalbaud gathered the ball at the edge of the box and blasted it toward the net. Neumann was able to redirect it, but it was not enough to prevent the goal.
The 76th-minute goal was the final of the match and snapped Maryland’s nine-game unbeaten streak. Maryland has just three matches remaining before the postseason begins.
Three things to know
1. The Terps scored first. For the first time in three games, Maryland took an early lead and scored the first goal of the game. Scoring first was a concept that Cirovski stressed over the past week after the Terps tied Northwestern and Wisconsin. Ciorvski’s wish was granted on Monday night, but the lone goal was not enough to overcome the Panthers.
“We played a great first half. We played very positive, you know, we scored a great goal, we maybe even deserved another,” Cirovski said. “I think maybe we just felt too good about ourselves at half.”
2. Maryland played without two starters. Senior midfielder Malcolm Johnston and graduate forward German Giammattei were sidelined against High Point due to injury. The two are responsible for 16 of the Maryland’s 73 points this season. The Terps needed them in this one, as they were able to create opportunities but could not finish the job.
3. The Terps’ form has faltered as of late. Maryland went from a juggernaut with just one loss to a team that cannot seem to get in the win column. The Terps played perhaps their easiest stretch of the season during the last three games but came away winless. Northwestern and Wisconsin sat at the bottom of the Big Ten standings, while High Point was 2-3-2 in nonconference play entering Monday’s game.
“Thankfully, it’s not the last game of the season and we have a chance to hopefully learn and become stronger,” Cirovski said.