When forward Sebastian Elney finished a close-range opportunity in the 28th minute Sunday afternoon against Wisconsin, it gave the Maryland men’s soccer team its first lead in 23 days.
The Badgers, though, scored a pair of second-half goals to defeat the Terps, 2-1, eliminating them from the Big Ten Tournament. Maryland, which won all three Big Ten titles since joining the conference, will not advance to the semifinals next weekend.
The Terps last held an advantage on Oct. 13 against the Badgers in a 5-4 win before finishing the regular season on a four-game losing streak, the longest since head coach Sasho Cirvoski’s first season in College Park, 24 years ago.
Elney collected a sharp cross from midfielder Jake Rozhansky in the middle of the box, finishing it past Wisconsin goalkeeper Philipp Schilling to give the Terps a first-half lead.
With the disappointing end to the regular season behind them, the fourth-seeded Terps came out quickly against the fifth-seeded Badgers. Maryland controlled most of the early possession, only conceding a few Wisconsin counter-attacks in the first half.
The Badgers, though, had three chances to make the first strike on the same play in the 13th minute, starting with midfielder Mark Segbers’ strike off the post. On the same possession, Maryland goalie Dayne St. Clair was forced to make a one-handed save on forward Tom Barlow’s header before miraculously denying Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, Chris Mueller, right in front of net.
Oh my goodness Dayne St. Clair.— Joe Catapano (@JoeCatapano_) November 5, 2017
Terps and Badgers remain tied. pic.twitter.com/w6cLRLHhMu
Maryland’s solid performance in the first 45 minutes led to a halftime lead that wouldn’t last long in the second half.
A controversial no-call that went in the Badgers’ favor led to a successful corner kick in the 51st minute. Defender Noah Leibold controlled the ball with his chest, made a quick move to the left and then converted for his first goal of the season.
Similarly to the back-and-forth finish in Madison earlier this season, the game turned into a match with quality second-half chances for both teams. Barlow nearly snuck a shot under St. Clair in the 59th minute to quickly give the Badgers a lead, but it was deflected out for a corner. Rozhansky almost followed up his assist with a goal in the 64th minute, but his shot just missed the right side of the net.
Substitute Eric Matzelevich headed a ball inside the box, where it was met by another header by Donovan Pines in front of net but it, too, just missed the frame in the 72nd minute. A Matzelevich right-footed shot with 12 minutes left in regulation sailed over the net.
A counter-attack from the Badgers in the 87th minute was the decisive moment at Ludwig Field, as Segbers snuck a foot onto the ball and past St. Clair to give Wisconsin the victory.
Three things to know
- It was the Terps best offensive performance in a while. The Terps outshot the Badgers, 7-3, in the first half, controlling nearly all of the possession in the midfield and attacking third. Rozhansky, who was named to the Big Ten All-First team this past week, was very successful at creating chances in and around the box. It was clear the offense was struggling during the four straight losses and, although they lost, Maryland looked much better than it had to finish the season.
- The backline looked more connected with Donovan Pines back. After missing the last two games of the regular season with a concussion, Pines returned for the Terps. He was named to the Big Ten’s Second Team on Friday, showing how big of a piece he was to Maryland’s defense. Chase Gasper remained sidelined with a groin injury, but sophomore Miles Stray played very well on the defense, alongside Pines, Johannes Bergmann and George Campbell.
- What’s next for the Terps? With an early exit from the Big Ten Tournament, the Terps will have well over a week to prepare for a still-likely NCAA Tournament birth. Maryland, ranked No. 24 overall, will also likely drop out of the rankings after five straight losses. It would be surprising for the Terps’ name not to be called on Nov. 13 for Selection Monday, but anything can happen. The probable situation would be Maryland hosting a first round game in the NCAA Tournament on Nov. 16.