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No. 20 Maryland men’s soccer misses another penalty kick in 2-1 loss to No. 15 Virginia

For the second consecutive game, the Terps were denied from the spot.

Maryland men’s soccer fell to rival Virginia, 2-1.
Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics.

Maryland men’s soccer’s had a chance to even the score at two when Luke van Heukelum stepped up to take a penalty kick in the 59th minute.

Taking off from the line, the true freshman smashed the ball toward the lower left corner of the goal. However, a well-anticipated save by Virginia goalkeeper Holden Brown kept the Cavaliers in the lead — and the Terps demoralized.

It was the same location as teammate Stefan Copetti’s missed penalty in a scoreless draw with Wake Forest in Maryland’s last game, which also cost the team points. Virginia survived the rest of the match and won, 2-1, while No. 20 Maryland fell to 1-2-1 on the season.

“With the heat, I think we really struggled with our legs today,” Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “That was not the kind of performance we need to have on the road against a good Virginia team.”

As was also the case for a large portion of the Wake Forest contest, the match commenced with a great deal of chippy play. The Terps had some difficulty developing anything of substance on attack, often being outpaced to the ball.

The Terps’ lack of energy eventually plagued them, as Virginia opened the scoring with a penalty kick just 13 minutes in.

Minutes later, forward Kimani Stewart-Baynes hustled down the sideline to retrieve the ball as Copetti jostled for position in front of the net. And Copetti, who had struggled to score early in the season, found his shot, taking the superb cross by the star freshman and heading the ball past Brown.

“A little bit of a monkey off the back, honestly ... confidence-wise, getting that goal was definitely a boost for me,” Copetti said. “Obviously, I was hoping for a better result for the team.”

Although Maryland knotted the score at one, Virginia had a response. After right back Kento Abe missed a tackle, Virginia midfielder Mouhameth Thiam sprinted the length of the Terps’ field before easily chipping the ball into the net over the outstretched hands of goalie Mikah Seger.

The Cavaliers were extremely comfortable with the ball in their possession, stringing passes around the field and effortlessly setting one another up with opportunities. Meanwhile, the Terps struggled to maintain control, relying on set pieces to boost their offense.

Stewart-Baynes was the lone bright spot from Maryland’s offense in the first half, continuously creating his own scoring chances.

The start of the second half wasn’t much nicer to the Terps than the first, as Virginia embarked on a quick offensive explosion. Within the first seven minutes of play, the Cavaliers outshot Maryland, 4-0, earning themselves a corner kick in the process.

As the 70th minute passed, Maryland began exhibiting its aggressive nature. Cirovski demanded the Terps wingbacks to push forward and further pressure the Cavaliers. In some ways, it worked, as Abe swung in a few well-placed services. Nonetheless, a lot of Maryland’s decisions with the ball appeared rushed.

Although the Terps had some close calls late in the match — defined by their unsuccessful penalty kick — they were ultimately unable to find the equalizer.

“We can’t afford to keep missing penalty kicks,” Cirovski said. “We could have gotten a win against Wake had we scored and maybe we get a tie here if we get the penalty kick goal.”

Three things to know

1. Another slow start. Virginia dominated the Terps in the opening 45 minutes. Not only did the Cavaliers outshoot Maryland by five, but they simply outworked them. Maryland was beat to a plethora of 50/50 balls and struggled to advance the ball past midfield. Maryland was lucky to only be down by one heading into the second half.

“We lost three of our leading scorers from last year and we haven’t really hit our stride,” Cirovski said. “It was a great response after their first goal ... we just need more of those moments.”

2. A penalty kick looms large again. For the second straight contest, Maryland missed a decisive penalty kick. The Terps could very well be 2-1-1 right now, but instead sit under .500.

In recent years, penalties have been a strength for the Terps, as Malcolm Johnston was one of the nation’s most prolific players from the spot last year. But they have been unable to recapture that magic this season.

“We just have to find the right players that can step up in that moment and deliver,” Cirovski said. “We lost our penalty kick taker from last year and we’re still trying to search to find the right person to step up.”

3. Seger shines again. Don’t let the result confuse you — Seger was fantastic in just his second college start. The sophomore racked up five saves on the night and gave Maryland a serious opportunity to come back in the second half. His poise and smarts were on display all night long.