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Maryland men’s soccer ends season with penalty-kick NCAA Tournament loss to Albany

The Terps’ losing streak finishes the season at six games.

Gabe Fernandez/Testudo Times

Maryland men’s soccer had played in four overtime matches heading into its first-round NCAA Tournament match against Albany, failing to lose any of those contests with a pair of wins and ties during the regular season.

The Terps advanced into their first penalty kick shootout since a 2015 NCAA Tournament loss to Clemson after 110 minutes of scoreless soccer with the Great Danes. After eight rounds of kicks, Albany finished the Terps to advance with a 5-4 advantage.

The Terps ended their season with six straight losses, scoring just two goals during that span.

As confirmed by head coach Sasho Cirovski earlier this week, defender Chase Gasper would return to the starting lineup after missing the last five matches—and losses—to end the regular season and Big Ten Tournament.

While the backline was not the primary reason for the Terps’ recent skid, Gasper’s presence on the pitch appeared to give his team an extra confidence. It was the first time Maryland’s best starting defense was back together in three weeks, and it performed as it had during the beginning parts of the season.

Albany didn’t record a shot until the 36th minute, and it ended the first half with just two, both by freshman midfielder Andreas Assiotis. Neither were threatening chances, and Maryland goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair was forced to make just one routine save ini the first 45 minutes.

Maryland, which scored just two goals during its five-game losing streak, continued its struggle to turn chances into goals. Although five of the Terps’ six first-half shots were on goal, none turned into a celebration.

Senior midfielder Jake Rozhansky ripped a shot from outside the box in the 34th minute, but Albany goalie Danny Vitiello made a diving one-handed save to preserve the scoreless tie. Later in the first half, solid combination play in the midfield led to a dangerous cross by defender George Campbell. The low-laying ball narrowly missed forward Gordon Wild’s foot at the six-yard box, but skipped past the face of goal.

Wild took a free kick from a promising location just outside the box in the 37th minute, but his attempt beneath the Great Danes wall resulted in a simple save by Vitiello.

Maryland entered Thursday with a week more rest than Albany, which played Sunday in the America East Championship. The additional energy showed in the Terps possession, continuing to control the pace in the second half.

Under 30 seconds into the second half, Rozhansky put another shot on goal from just inside the box, setting the tone for the rest of regulation. Substitute DJ Reeves got two shots off in front of net in the 74th minute, but close-range opportunities were saved and blocked away.

The Terps generated many of their chances on crosses from the left side of the field, coming primarily from left-footers Wild and Gasper. Those chances either skipped through the box or, like on Eryk Williamson’s strike in the 78th minute, were blocked by a defender.

Maryland ended regulation with a 13-3 shot advantage, but with no goals on the scoreboard, the Terps headed to their fifth overtime match of the season.

Less than two minutes into overtime, St. Clair was forced to make his best save of the night. Assiotis snuck through the Terps defense and had a one-on-one chance with St. Clair in front of net, but his chance was blocked away for a corner.

Each side only recorded one shot in the two 10-minute overtime periods, and so, the game went into penalty kicks.

Both teams had chances to win in penalty kicks, but after a wild eight-round affair, the Great Danes finally put away the Terps, 5-4, to advance into the second round.

Three things to know

  1. Chase Gasper returned and made a noticeable difference. Gasper was forced to watch his teammates endure a five-game losing streak heading into the NCAA Tournament, but finally returned from a groin injury. The junior’s leadership and communication improved a backline that had given up surprising counter-attack goals to end the regular season. The Terps defense conceded just four shots on the night.
  2. The Terps almost converted on multiple corner kicks. Midfielder Amar Sejdic swung in a cross following a corner kick with seconds ticking down in the first half, but the ball was contacted in the box and fell straight to the Great Danes goalie. In the 50th minute, defender Donovan Pines nearly connected on a Johannes Bergmann corner. Maryland earned two corners in overtime, but couldn’t put a shot on frame. The Terps did not score on a corner kick this season.
  3. The season is over. Six straight losses with two goals during that span. That is how the 2017 Maryland men’s soccer season will be remembered. There will be no redemption from last year’s stunning home-loss to Providence in the NCAA Tournament.