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No. 8 Maryland men’s soccer escapes Old Dominion, 1-0

The Terps notched their sixth win of the season Friday night.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics
Twitter: @MarylandMSoccer

The first half of No. 8 Maryland men’s soccer’s game against Old Dominion was relatively uneventful.

However, just before the halftime intermission, the Terps finally broke through. Following a nifty overlap pass, redshirt senior Nick Richardson was tripped up entering the 18-yard box, securing a penalty kick for Maryland.

Senior midfielder Malcolm Johnston calmly stepped up to the spot and struck the ball into the left side of the goal, giving his team a 1-0 lead that they would hold for the remainder of the game.

The Terps managed a one-goal win over Old Dominion Friday night in College Park, moving their overall record to 6-1-2 this season. The Monarchs fell to 4-3-2.

“I’m very pleased that we got the result and we got the shutout,” Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “I thought our backline, defensively, was outstanding.”

To start, Maryland struggled to find its footing on a slick night in College Park, as the underdog Monarchs nearly struck first after a careless giveaway by the Terps in the second minute.

After intercepting a lackadaisical pass by senior forward Hunter George, Old Dominion graduate forward Jonas Schmalbach found himself in on goal with just the goalie to beat. Luckily for the Terps, junior goalkeeper Jamie Lowell made a clutch save and followed it up with an encore on the rebound.

Not five minutes later, Lowell was tested again but made a diving stop to keep the Monarchs out of the back of the net.

“I think just being ready, staying on your toes at all times,” Lowell said of his mentality during a game. “If you’ve got to make a save, you’ve got to make a save.”

The rest of the first half was relatively uneventful, as only a smattering of chances put any pressure on the defenses. Maryland controlled the flow of the game — handling 60% of possession in the opening 45 minutes — but couldn’t beat Monarchs freshman goalie Michael Statham on any of its first five shots.

Johnston changed that with his successful attempt from the penalty spot in the 44th minute, scoring to give Maryland a 1-0 lead. He has been remarkably effective on penalty kicks this season, converting all four of his opportunities — good for the team lead in goals despite not scoring from open play.

“Doing it so many times, I kind of go into my zone, and just, you know, take a couple deep breaths and pick my spot and find it,” Johnston said. “I’ve been fortunate to get four and I’m looking to keep scoring ‘em.”

“Malcolm is a very composed individual. He’s very confident and he’s been money so far,” Cirovski added.

Just minutes into the second half, it briefly appeared that freshman forward Max Riley had doubled Maryland’s lead, but his shot that found the back of the net was waved off due to him being offsides.

The rain began to come down harder as the second half went on, and the weather’s effect on the play on the field became apparent. Players began to slip frequently and struggled to strike the ball cleanly, making it hard to generate quality chances.

Despite the elements, Old Dominion managed to keep the pressure on, and in the 58th minute, graduate forward Tristan Jenkins found himself behind the Terps’ defense. As was the case in the game’s opening minutes, though, Lowell came up big for Maryland, kicking Jenkins’ shot aside to maintain the Terps’ one-goal lead.

“I thought Jamie Lowell had one of his best games in a Maryland uniform,” Cirovski said. “The fact that Jamie had his best game in a Maryland uniform is disappointing because that means we allowed them too many chances today.”

The Monarchs continued to make Maryland work on the defensive end but failed to capitalize for the remainder of the second half, as the Terps’ defenders cleared the ball away at the sight of any danger.

In the 83rd minute, the Monarchs finally got a shot past Lowell, as a header by sophomore defender Samuel Mar Kristinsson looped over the goalkeeper’s head. Unfortunately for Old Dominion, a late comeback was not in the cards, as Maryland sophomore defender William Kulvik leaped and heroically headed the ball off the crossbar and out of the awaiting open net.

That proved to be the final chance of the night for Old Dominion, as the Terps held strong and held on to their 1-0 lead for the victory.

Maryland now shifts its focus to a talented Rutgers team that looks to be some of its toughest competition in the Big Ten.

“Rutgers will be a great test,” Johnston said. “It’s always a great team every year.”

Three things to know

1. Max Riley was very active in his first career start. After scoring his first career goal against Ohio State on Sunday, Riley earned himself a spot in the starting 11 for the first time in his young career. Although he didn’t score on any of his opportunities, his energy created many chances for the Terps. He looks to be a promising piece moving forward for Cirovski’s program.

2. Jamie Lowell was Maryland’s most valuable player. If not for Lowell’s outstanding play in goal, Maryland likely would have been upset by the Monarchs at home. He had six saves Friday, multiple of which were on gift-wrapped scoring opportunities. He has been fantastic since stepping into a starting role earlier in the season and has strung together back-to-back clean sheets.

“I love clean sheets, I’m a goalkeeper — I think every goalkeeper loves a clean sheet — but I think a team win is the most important thing,” Lowell said.

3. Both teams’ finishing left much to be desired. While Lowell and Statham deserve credit for their performances, the Terps and Monarchs both had multiple opportunities to score that they didn’t convert. Junior forward Stefan Copetti had a golden opportunity to score Maryland’s second goal of the game with just minutes remaining, but his shot was stopped by Statham. As Big Ten play heats up, the Terps will need those chances to become goals.

“I think our final shots weren’t dangerous enough,” Cirovski said. “A couple of them were in places we normally would score goals and we just didn’t have the pace on the shot or maybe the quality or control on the shot.”