The Maryland men’s soccer team had its championship run cut far short Sunday night, thanks to a stunning comeback from Providence in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Maryland was up 4-1 in the second half, but Providence scored four late goals to complete an unbelievable comeback.
The No. 1-seed Terps hadn’t lost a game all season. The championship run they seemed seemed destined for is done after one NCAA Tournament match.
Gordon Wild put the Terps up 1-0 in the sixth minute, from a free kick about 30 yards out. There were three players lined up to take the kick, but the sophomore forward stepped up confidently and rifled the ball into the top left corner.
The Friars punished the Terps on the counter attack a mere four minutes later. Midfielder Brendan Constatine intercepted the ball at the halfway line, off a sloppy pass from Andrew Samuels, and played it through to Julian Gressel, Providence’s lynchpin, who capitalized off Alex Crognale’s botched clearance and slotted the equalizer through in the 10th minute.
Amar Sejdic gave Maryland the lead again in the 21st minute, scoring on a free kick from 40 yards out. The high-arching ball looked like it was intended for a man in the box, but Friars goalie Colin Miller was completely caught off guard as the ball just snuck in under the crossbar.
Maryland was continually exposed early in the first half. The Terps played a high back-line, with fullbacks Andrew Samuels and Chris Odoi-Atsem bombing forward to help out the attack, leaving Crognale and Dainkeh short-handed. Maryland headed into halftime with six shots to Providence’s five, and tied 2-2 on corners.
The Terps doubled their advantage just five minutes into the second half. The brilliant sequence was started by Wild, who beat two men before laying it off to Samuels. The left back took the ball all the way to the end-line before lofting it into the middle and forcing a save from Miller. D.J. Reeves took a great shot off the rebound, only for it to be cleared off the line. The possession looked to be over, but Sejdic one-timed the clearance past the outstretched arm of Miller to finally give Maryland a two-goal lead.
Eryk Williamson tallied another for Maryland three minutes later, giving the Terps what seemeed to be an insurmountable lead. Chris Odoi-Atsem’s cross found Williamson’s feet and the midfielder’s shot dinged in off the right post.
The Friars then scored three goals in seven minutes to level the scoreline with just over 15 minutes left, leaving the home crowd speechless. With eight minutes to go, Joao Serrano scored directly off a corner to put Providence up 5-4, completing the unlikely comeback.
Maryland finished the game with 18 shots. Terps goalkeeper Cody Niedermeier had four saves in the final collegiate game of his career.
The Terps couldn’t even the score in the game’s final eight minutes. Against all odds, their season is over.