Already up one goal, No. 14 Maryland men’s soccer took control in the 30th minute and made the most of its opportunities. After giving up an early penalty kick, No. 21 Georgetown attempted to fight back.
Georgetown sophomore goalkeeper Luca Ulrich received a pass from sophomore midfielder Joe Buck outside of the goal area and tried to pass it right back. Ulrich’s pass was way off the mark and ended up in the hands of Maryland redshirt senior defender Nick Richardson.
Richardson turned to the goal and and took the shot. With Ulrich out of position, Richardson’s shot reached the back of the net, giving Maryland a commanding 2-0 lead en route to its 2-1 victory on Saturday afternoon in Washington, D.C.
Despite a second-half rally from the Hoyas, their pivotal first half mistakes were difficult to recover from, leading the Terps to their second win in a row.
“It was a tremendous performance by our team. I thought in the first half we played our best half of the year,” Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “We haven’t won at this venue for a long time, but our time came today, and I’m very proud of us.’
The match was scrappy from the get-go as freshman forward Colin Griffith picked up a foul within the first 10 seconds.
Georgetown’s play matched the energy of its faithful fans, pressuring the Terps early and delivering a shot on goal in the fourth minute.
Maryland slowly made its way down the field in the sixth minute before Griffith received the ball and was immediately triple-teamed. The freshman was somehow able to slip away and dart for the goal line. As he entered the box, sophomore midfielder Diego Letayf committed a crucial foul, giving senior midfielder Malcolm Johnston a penalty kick.
As Johnston approached the ball, he pulled out his signature move. Johnston paused right before delivering a strike to the left side of the net while Ulrich dove to the right.
Despite holding the lead, the Terps remained relentless. During the next 10 minutes, Maryland attempted five shots, three of which belonged to Griffith. Bolma was met with the best opportunity, but his left-footed shot was saved by Ulrich.
The teams continued to battle until the Terps capitalized on another mistake by Georgetown in the 30th minute. As the ball trickled to the goal line, Ulrich stepped out of the net and tried to pass the ball right back to Buck. The ball was passed too far to the right as redshirt senior defender Nick Richardson took his fourth shot of the season on an open net.
The Hoyas began to feel the pressure and began to rattle off shots, each of them blocked by a Maryland defender or saved by senior goalkeeper Niklas Neumann.
Georgetown’s most promising shot came in the 39th minute as four Hoyas were deep in the box. Freshman midfielder Max Viera saw sophomore defender Kieran Sergeant storming into the box and dumped the ball off to him. With only Neumann in his way, Sergeant pulled the shot to the left and missed the shot.
While the Terps did not quite dominate the time of possession, they certainly made the most of it. Maryland finished the first half with 10 shots, six of which were on goal, while Georgetown attempted six shots, with just one of them being on goal.
Senior forward Hunter George got to work early in the second period, firing off a shot from outside of the box in the 46th minute. Ulrich was able to scoop it up with ease, but the Hoyas’ midfielders continued to get beat.
In the 53rd minute, Georgetown junior forward Marlon Tabora lifted a shot over Neumann’s head, but it barley missed the crossbar, landing on top of the net. Just one minute later, Tabora received the ball in the middle of the box, but Neumann was there to make a sliding save.
The Hoyas continued to challenge Neumann in the 67th minute. After passing the ball around the box, Georgetown freshman midfielder Jack Panayotou blasted the ball to the top of net. Neumann jumped, fully extended and misdirected the ball enough to smack off the crossbar.
Georgetown and Panyotou finally struck back in the 78th minute, though. Off a beautiful feed from freshman forward Jacob Murrell, Panyotou flicked a laser from in front of the six-yard box into the top left corner of the net.
But, it was not enough for the Hoyas. Despite outshooting the Terps, Maryland’s defense — and specifically Neumann — held strong for the important 2-1 victory.
The Terps will take nearly a week off before the beginning of Big Ten play, traveling to play at Michigan on Friday, Sept. 16.
Three things to know
1. Johnston’s penalty kicks. The senior’s stellar penalty kick routine continues to be a welcomed addition to a Maryland offense that has struggled at times. Johnston has led the Terps to a hot start in consecutive games, converting on penalty kicks in the 21st minute against Virginia and the seventh minute against Georgetown. If Johnston can continue this trend, he could finish the season with at least five goals, which would be a career high.
“He’s our captain, he’s our leader, he’s Mr. Cool out there. You know, he’s got a sense of calmness about him when things get really heated,” Cirovski said. “Besides the goal, it was the rest of his play that I thought helped us win the game.”
2. Neumann was a brick wall. Neumann made it difficult for the Hoyas to score all day, especially in the second half. Down 2-0, Georgetown refused to cave, giving Neumann everything it had with six shots on goal. The Hoyas were able to break through eventually, but they would have ran away with the game if it was not for three spectacular saves from Neumann.
“It’s very tough mentally because I’ve always got to be tuned in. Sometimes when we have possession up the field I can relax a little bit, you know what I mean, and when they have the ball all the time around your [18-yard box] you’re just on edge,” Neumann said.
3. The Terps outlast Georgetown for the first time in six years. While Maryland has had their number throughout history — holding a 29-5-2 record — the Hoyas have dominated this rivalry recently. Georgetown is 3-0-1 in the series since 2016, but that all changed on Saturday afternoon. The Terps were able to convert on multiple mistakes by the Hoyas en route to a 2-1 win for the first time in six years.
“I think we were due. They’ve had a really, really good team, I think almost every year for the past 10 years, and so have we,” Cirovski said. “It feels really good to get a victory against one of [our] most respected rivals.”