Missouri State goalkeeper Harry Townsend had to make just one save all night long, reflecting the inability of Maryland men’s soccer to accumulate any substantial scoring opportunities Thursday night in its season opener against Missouri State.
The No. 14 Terps had trouble adjusting to their roster turnover from last season, which was ultimately illustrated in their 1-0 defeat to the Bears — their first loss in a home opener since 2010.
The energy at Ludwig Field was palpable as game time rolled around. “The Crew,” Maryland’s raucous supporters group, roared loudly as the squad took the pitch for its inaugural match of the 2023 campaign.
But it became evident early that the Bears were not going to back down. They maintained a great deal of pressure, consistently sending through balls down the wing. This aggressiveness resulted in a few offsides calls, but it eventually resulted in the game’s one and only goal.
In the 31st minute, Missouri State capitalized on its first corner kick of the evening. Maryland goalkeeper Jamie Lowell, directing traffic in front of the net, was unable to recover as a tap-in by Jack Denton broke the tie and proved to be all the Bears needed.
Following the goal, Maryland kept up its effort, but couldn’t find an equalizer. The Terps were unable to transition out of the defensive zone due to the Bears’ relentless pressure, forcing a number of mistakes by a team that appeared quite uncomfortable. On offense, they seemed keen on playing through forwards Stefan Copetti and Colin Griffith, but could not garner prime opportunities.
The Terps looked somewhat impatient on offense as the 60th minute approached, still unable to successfully penetrate the Bears’ defense. They attempted a number of deep services into the box, but all proved fruitless.
15 minutes into the second half, freshman Kimani Stewart-Baynes, one of the speediest Terps, had a prime scoring chance as he dashed past the Bears’ right back and headed for goal, but an aggressive gamble and brilliant stop by Townsend kept Missouri State in the lead.
Despite a late push and even some clamor for a penalty kick with five minutes remaining, the Terps could not muster a comeback as they dropped their season opener.
Three things to know
1. A slow start. As expected, the Terps came out a bit discombobulated in the first game of the season; Maryland’s transition game and attack left much to be desired. Numerous players found themselves in a rut, often slow to react after receiving a pass. Midfielders consistently failed to notify defenders to turn when facing oncoming opposition.
2. Missteps on corner kicks. The Terps had a total of seven corner kicks, but were unable to take advantage. It was noticeable that Cirovski wanted crosses aimed at the back post, but the Terps never altered their plan on these set pieces, even after failing multiple times.
3. Freshmen performances. Cirovski opted to give his youngsters a great deal of playing time against the Bears. Aside from Koehl, the first-years displayed an average showing, but there were flashes of immense potential. Forwards Luke van Heukelum and Henrik Sakshaug had their fair share of chances, and midfielder Jack McDaid highlighted his poise and decision-making. Also, Leon Koehl, a star midfielder from Germany, graced the starting lineup and made some terrific cross-field passes.