Leading 2-0 in the middle of the first half, No. 8 Maryland men’s soccer was firing on all cylinders.
Delaware had no answer for the Terps, as it could not get anything going on the offensive end to counter Maryland’s goal-scoring clinic.
With the Terps maintaining control of the game, senior midfielder Justin Harris scored the dagger in the 34th minute to give Maryland a comfortable 3-0 lead.
With the ball floating around in the Terps’ own half, sophomore midfielder Griffin Dillon decided to boot the ball to the other side of the pitch. Harris was able to track the ball down and break away from the Blue Hens. All he had to do was get the ball past Delaware redshirt freshman goalkeeper Adam Vik, and Harris did just that.
The senior scored the third goal of his career as his teammates swarmed him.
Maryland ultimately cruised to a 4-1 victory in its final home game of the regular season on Tuesday night.
Now at 9-2-4, the Terps just have Sunday’s game at Indiana remaining before the start of the postseason.
“Obviously, I am very pleased with both the effort and the result tonight,” head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “I would’ve liked the shutout, but I guess you can’t have everything.”
The Terps were sluggish to began the match on a rainy Tuesday night. Maryland committed two offsides and failed to attempt a shot through the first 10 minutes.
Senior midfielder Malcolm Johnston took the first shot of the game on a free kick. His shot sailed over the net as the scoreboard remained empty.
This did not last for long, though, as Dillon scored his third goal of the season in the 14th minute. Senior forward Hunter George received a pass from Johnston and immediately booted the ball into the middle of the 18-yard box. As George’s foot made contact with the ball, Dillon darted toward the goal area where he headed the ball into the net for the first goal of the game.
Junior forward Stefan Copetti was met with a golden opportunity just three minutes later but failed to convert. Copetti had a one-on-one opportunity with Delaware redshirt freshman goalkeeper Adam Vik, but this is a situation where Copetti has struggled recently.
However, an aspect of Copetti’s game that does not have any flaws is his height, as he stands at a staggering six-foot-two. The junior used every inch of his height in the 24th minute as he jumped over Delaware junior defender Pedro Barbolla to head in redshirt sophomore forward Joshua Bolma’s cross.
The scoring did not stop there, as Harris was the next man up. In the 34th minute, Harris collected a deep pass from Dillon as Vik was the only Blue Hen in his way. Harris dribbled into the box and drilled the ball at the net. The shot hit the bottom of the crossbar and bounced into the net for the third Maryland goal in 20 minutes.
The Terps played lights-out in the first half. Maryland scored three of its seven shots while holding Delaware to zero shot attempts.
The Blue Hens’ first shot of the game came in the 51st minute when Delaware freshman forward Sam Donnellan lined up for a free kick. Donnellan’s 30-yard shot was well short as junior goalkeeper Jamie Lowell scooped it up.
Delaware got on the board in the 86th minute, but it was immediately followed by a Maryland goal. Freshman defender Mack Devries sealed the deal in the 88th minute as the Terps defeated the Blue Hens, 4-1.
“[Devries] kind of looked at me on the corner and said, ‘Can I go up? Can I go up?’ I said, ‘Go up and get a goal.’ So, he listens well,” Cirovski said. “He’s such a great kid and to get a goal like that will certainly build his confidence up.”
Three things to know
1. The Terps were firing on all cylinders. Maryland looked like one of the best teams in the nation through the first half, as the Terps scored three goals and refused to allow a Delaware shot attempt. Maryland was a little more sloppy in the second half when many of its freshmen checked into the game, but the Terps still tied Delaware in the half, 1-1. Fresh off two impressive wins, Maryland’s confidence should be back to mid-season form.
“I think everyone was also just communicating very well from the back to the front,” senior defender Chris Rindov said. “I think that’s really when we’re at our best is when we’re working together and it’s not individual efforts, it’s a team effort.”
2. Maryland thrived without many of its starters. Three of the Terps’ usual starters did not play Tuesday night: senior goalkeeper Niklas Neumann, junior defender Alex Nitzl and sophomore defender William Kulvik. Neumann and Nitzl took the night off; Kulvik was suspended after picking up his fifth yellow card on Friday night. Graduate forward German Giamattei was also out with a leg injury for the third consecutive game. Despite this, Maryland dominated while playing 21 different players.
“I think any guy could jump on the field and have the same impact that that a starter can,” Dillon said. “I think that’s one of our strengths for this team.”
3. The Terps are ready for Indiana. After taking care of business against Delaware, Maryland is ready for its pivotal contest against Indiana. The Terps were nearly flawless on both sides of the ball and will need to maintain this level of play come Sunday. If the Terps defeat Indiana, Maryland will win the Big Ten regular season title for the first time in six seasons.
“I think I made it very clear that we’re not happy that we haven’t picked up a trophy since 2018,” Cirovski said. “This is what we want to do. We want to be playing [on] the last day of the year for something meaningful and we are, so we’re excited for that challenge.”