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Maryland men’s soccer will look to learn from its first loss of the season

The Terps still have time to grow before it’s win-or-go-home.

Photo by Maryland Athletics

When Maryland men’s soccer lost its first game last season—a shocking 5-4 loss at home to Providence in the second round of the NCAA Tournament—there was no next game. There was no time left to learn from mistakes and no opportunity to experience a loss and become better because of it.

It was just a single blemish to the seniors’ last year as Terrapins, but it came at the most costly moment and at the most important time of the season. For the returning players, it wasn’t for another nine months that they’d step back on the field in an attempt to avenge the abrupt finish to the prior year’s postseason.

While losing isn’t enjoyable in any scenario, Maryland’s 1-0 loss to No. 13 Georgetown Tuesday night—its first loss of the season—preceded something it didn’t have last November: more time.

“I think it’s a good thing that we lost now because we can learn from it,” senior captain Jake Rozhansky said. “Last season [when we lost], the season was over.”

The veteran midfielder knows what it’s like to learn from failure. As a member of the 2014 National Champion Virginia team, he and the Cavaliers lost six times heading into the NCAA Tournament, and they didn’t even reach their conference semifinals. Rozhansky, who was selected to the 2014 College Cup All-Tournament team, played in 37 games in two seasons at Virginia before transferring to Maryland for his junior and senior seasons.

Tuesday’s loss to Georgetown was the first time Rozhansky has lost in the regular season with Maryland, as the Terps entered the night with a program-record 30-game regular season unbeaten streak stretching back to 2015.

“You hate to lose anytime, but in many ways this is what the doctor ordered for my team,” head coach Sasho Cirvoski said after the game. “I think that we need to get a little bit of an edge back, maybe exhale a little bit, and stop dealing with this undefeated bologna.”

Maryland outshot the Hoyas 12-6 in the loss, but couldn’t put any past Georgetown goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski. Even though the Terps’ 7.8 shots on goal per game ranks fourth in the country, they’ve often lacked the ability to score efficiently. Given that two starting defenders were out with a groin injury and a red-card suspension, it wasn’t going to be an easy match against a local, ranked rival.

“I don’t think we played bad, but I don’t think we played very well,” Rozhansky said. “And when you do that, it’s dangerous because when you don’t play your best the other team can take advantage.”

Time will ultimately tell how well this Maryland team responds to the loss moving forward, but even the past Sasho Cirvoski championship teams experienced their share of defeat. The 2005 team lost four times prior to its title run, and the 2008 squad lost three times in its first 10 games before rattling off 16 straight wins en route to a conference and NCAA title.

“I’m not a good loser, but we’re going to learn from this and we’re going to move forward,” Cirovski said. “We’ll figure out how good this loss is for us if we make it a good lesson.”

Georgetown’s 88th-minute goal left just under three minutes for Maryland fight for a tie, but the loss itself provides the Terps with at least 270 minutes of gameplay to learn from defeat before entering the postseason, where there is less room for error. The Terps’ next opponent is Coastal Carolina, who visits College Park this weekend.

“[Wednesday] we will regroup,” Rozhansky said. “I think Friday we need to come out very hot and fired up.”