The Maryland men’s soccer team trotted out onto the field prior to Tuesday’s match against VCU sporting a uniform combination it hadn’t worn all season—white tops with black shorts—as it looked to avoid the program’s first three-game losing streak in over a decade.
The result for the Terps remained the same despite the alteration, though, as Rams midfielder Rafael Santos’ two first-half goals powered his team to an eventual 3-0 shutout win. Maryland is now on a three-game skid for the first time since 2004.
The Terps came out looking much more comfortable than they had in their prior two games, but continued to struggle to turn appealing opportunities into goals. Forward Sebastian Elney fought off two defenders in the 18th minute, creating space before ripping a shot off of the goal frame.
The ring of the post preceded the palpable frustration from the now-ranked No. 9 Terps.
What appeared to be a harmless turnover four minutes after Elney’s unlucky strike quickly turned into a Maryland deficit. After midfielder Amar Sejdic was dispossessed, Santos subtly glanced up to see goalie Dayne St. Clair far enough off his line, and then scored over the 6’4 keeper from long-range.
While Georgetown and Coastal Carolina beat the Terps by just one last week, the Rams continued to score. Moments before halftime, Santos scored again for his seventh goal of the season on forward Siad Haji’s second assist of the night. Haji played a cross on the ground that skipped past multiple defenders before Santos finished to put the Rams up two before the half.
Facing its largest deficit of the season, Maryland still could not find an answer for VCU in the second half. Midfielder Francesco Amorosino received a pass from Santos in the 53rd minute and fired it past St. Clair to extend the Rams’ lead to three goals.
Maryland had a handful of unfortunate attempts throughout the match, largely because of a brilliant game from Rams goalkeeper Mario Sequeira. Two minutes before VCU’s second goal, midfielder Jake Rozhansky’s header right in front of goal was kept out of net by a one-handed save. In the 66th minute, forward Eryk Williamson fired a shot from inside the box but it, too, was bested by an incredible save.
To cap of another struggle-filled night for the offense, Elney hit the post again in the 76th minute before scoring, but being called offsides in the 83rd minute.
Following three straight nonconference losses, Maryland (10-3-3) will play its last regular season game this Sunday at home against Michigan. The game, with major Big Ten Tournament seeding implications, is scheduled to kick off at 4 p.m. ET.
Three things to know
- The Terps have not scored in 275 minutes. It’s not a trend normally associated with this team, but the Terps have now been shut out in three straight games. After exploding for a season-high five goals against Wisconsin, the Terps have failed to score since. Maryland had zero scoreless matches all of last season and now they have five just one season later.
- The defense finally cracked. Many gave the team a pass after conceding four goals during a downpour against the Badgers since it came in a win, but the defense finally showed signs of weakness. Chase Gasper missed a third straight game with a lingering groin injury and sophomore Donovan Pines was a late scratch from the lineup for an unknown reason. It’s unfortunate for the Terps, but health is becoming an issue for a defense that has been the most consistent part of the team this season.
- These losses, however, have had no effect in terms of the Big Ten postseason. All three of Maryland’s losses this season have come against nonconference opponents; the Terps are still unbeaten in conference play. Maryland is currently tied with Indiana and Michigan State for first in the Big Ten with one game left to play. The Hoosiers and Spartans play each other, so the Terps would secure at least a top-two spot with a win Sunday against Michigan.