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Maryland men’s soccer wins season opener vs. Santa Clara, 4-2

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The Terps scored three first-half goals in 14 minutes to take control.

Matthew Regan

After allowing a third-minute goal in the early stages of Friday night’s match, the Maryland men’s soccer team scored three unanswered goals in the first half to start the 2017 campaign with a win on the road against Santa Clara.

Despite the early surprise from the Broncos, the Terps regrouped and found their rhythm midway through the first half, scoring three goals in 14 minutes to take a 3-1 lead into halftime. Maryland traded goals with Santa Clara in the second half, earning its first win of the season, 4-2.

After three of Maryland’s four primary starting defenders graduated after last year, head coach Sasho Cirovski started an entirely new defense to start the season. Transfers Chase Gasper and Johannes Bergmann took the field with sophomore Miles Stray and senior George Campbell on the backline.

Santa Clara quickly earned two set pieces shortly after kickoff, leading to the first strike of the match. The Broncos’ Brandon Gillingham collected a poorly-cleared free kick in the box, slotting it past Terps goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair.

Maryland struggled to generate scoring chances early in the first half, as forward Gordon Wild recorded the Terps’ only shot in the first 15 minutes. Once junior Eryk Williamson’s rebounded shot hit the crossbar and fell over the goal line for the equalizing score in the 27th minute, the momentum stayed with the Terps until the clock struck zero.

Eric Matzelevich was one of two players who saw playing time as a member of Maryland’s freshman class, and he scored just moments after he checked into the game. Midfielder Jake Rozhansky led the freshman attacker into the box, where he slotted a ball past the goalkeeper to take a 2-1 lead.

Rozhansky’s eight assists last season were the second-most on the team, but he also got in on the scoring two minutes after the go-ahead goal on a pass into the box by Williamson. The junior slipped a near-post shot into the net for the eventual game-winning goal.

While the first 20 minutes featured back-and-forth attacks, Maryland’s midfield controlled most of the possession for the rest of the game, limiting the scoring opportunities for the Broncos.

Santa Clara put the pressure on the Terps late in the game, scoring a 78th-minute free-kick goal to make it a 3-2 game. But with just three minutes left, Rozhansky buried his second goal of the game to solidify the victory. After his two-goal night, he is only one score shy of his 2016 total.

The No. 6 Terps return to action Monday at home against Hofstra at 7 p.m. ET, starting the first of five straight matches at Ludwig Field.

Three things to know

  1. It’s Maryland first win to start the season since 2011. Despite all the success in recent years for the Terps, they’ve struggled to win the very first game. Most of the results were draws, aside from one loss during this span, but Sasho Cirovski and the Terps are 1-0-0 for the first time in six years.
  2. Jake Rozhansky and Amar Sejdic controlled the midfield. The Terps took control of the game once they started maintaining possession for long periods of time. As center midfielders, Rozhansky and Sejdic facilitated the offense well, leading to the three straight goals to end the first half.
  3. Both Santa Clara goals came off set pieces. This was the most apparent area of concern for the Terps. Santa Clara scored one goal directly from a free kick and the other off a rebound from a free kick. The Broncos also nearly scored twice off corner kicks. Without 6’5 defender Alex Crognale, who won nearly every ball in the air last year, the Terps will need to improve on this as best they can.