The Maryland men’s soccer team extended their win streak to 10 against Hofstra, beating the Pride, 2-1, on a rainy Senior Night on Friday at Ludwig Field.
An Alex Crognale brace off two set-pieces helped No. 1 Maryland (13-0-2, 6-0-1 Big Ten) to a two-goal advantage in the first half. Crognale, the reigning Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week, added his fifth and sixth goals of the season. He’s been on fire with four goals in his past three games.
His first goal came in the fifth minute of play. Amar Sejdic lofted a free-kick into a crowded penalty area, where the center-back found the loose ball at his feet after a scrum and struck it past Hofstra’s Leo Arkhanhelskyi. The second delivery from Sejdic was almost identical except this time, the 6’5 Crognale rose to head home his second of the night.
Hofstra responded in the second half with some great opportunities and finally broke through Maryland’s defense in the 84th minute of regulation. Midfielder Meshack Eshun Addy’s chipped effort caught Cody Niedermeier off guard as it landed in the side netting.
After five straight shutouts, Maryland has now conceded four goals in its past three games. However, the unbeaten Terps are three games away from their first perfect regular season in 48 years.
“The undefeated stuff doesn’t mean anything to me at this point,” said Terps head coach Sasho Cirovski. “We do have some errors we need to improve defensively, but I think getting every [opponent’s] best shot has been taking a toll on us.”
Cirovski made only one change to the lineup on Friday, as Donovan Pines slotted in at center-back and Suli Dainkeh shifted out wide, to accommodate for the absence of Chris Odoi-Atsem, who suffered a concussion in the first half against American.
Maryland’s six seniors, Crognale, Niedermeier, Cody Albrecht, Dainkeh, Odoi-Atsem, and Emmanuel Korvah were honored before the game for the Terps’ annual Senior Night.
Maryland led 5-3 in shots at the break. The team had done well to hold on to the ball for the bulk of the first half, but Cirovski was still not satisfied with the Terps’ quality in possession.
“We have to come out in the second half a little bit sharper at keeping the ball,” Cirovski said at halftime. “We were giving [possession] away a little too easily.”
The start of the second half was a pure midfield battle, as neither team had a shot through the first 11 minutes.
Niedermeier produced a great initial save off Eshun Addy’s shot in the 64th minute. The rebound fell freely in front of the goal, but Crognale was able to come over just in time to deflect the clearance off an opposing player for a goal kick.
The match, which had looked done and dusted by the end of the first half, picked up steam with about 20 minutes left to play as Hofstra began to pressure Maryland’s backline high up the pitch by winning the ball back in midfield.
Midfielder Joseph Holland rattled off four shots for Hofstra between the 65th and 75th minute. Three of the chances were saved by Niedermeier, while Holland had the other blocked.
“We knew the second half would be difficult,” Cirovski said. “We were pushed back and forced to defend, and we absorbed some pressure. I certainly feel good about coming out on top.”
Sebastian Elney had a great opportunity to extend Maryland’s lead when he was played through by Eryk Williamson in the 80th minute, however, the forward’s side-footed shot dinged off the right post.
Hofstra outshot Maryland 10-6, with six of Terps’ shots coming on goal to the Pride’s three after 90 minutes, with a slew of their chances coming in the second half. Niedermeier finished with five saves on the night, while the Pride led, 3-0, on corners.
Maryland will play its last home game of the season Tuesday night at 7 p.m. against Delaware. The match will be broadcast on BTN Plus.