The Maryland men’s soccer team has battled all year through a grueling scheduling, injuries, and some tough luck at inopportune times. But in the biggest match of the year, the Terrapins scored a golden goal in the 97th minute to knock off No. 17 Michigan State, 1-0, in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals.
Eric Matzelevich was in the right place at the perfect time for Maryland, which desperately needed a resume-padding win if it hoped to continue its season. And following a shot by freshman Vinicius Lansade, Matzelevich beat goalkeeper Jimmy Hague on a rebound to give the the Terps the victory.
Maryland controlled the play more often than not, especially in the first half. Overall, the Terps tallied 19 shots and nine shots on goal to Michigan State’s 15 and five. Dayne St. Clair and Hague matched each other in goal, but the Terps snuck one by the Spartans’ keeper first.
Both defenses were lights-out early, suffocating the offenses and not allowing a single shot on goal until the 21st minute. Eli Crognale was able to break the ice, firing a shot that was saved by Jimmy Hague. The Terrapins continued to pepper the goal from that point on, as they took five shots in a 10-minute span to pressure the Spartans’ back line. However, Hague did what he’s done all season and stopped every scoring opportunity Maryland presented.
At the break, the Terps led the shots battle 7-3, including a 4-1 advantage in shots on goal. It’s been a recurring theme all season—Maryland was the better team on the field but failed to have anything to show for it.
By the 53rd minute, Maryland had taken the first five shots of the second half. William James Herve was responsible for two of them, his third and fourth of the game. However, none of them were all that dangerous.
As expected, the disparity of the teams’ play began to diminish and Michigan State’s offense woke up. Not only was it able to fire off more shots, but a few of those chances were nearly goals. In the 55th minute, Farai Mutatu ripped a shot towards the top-right corner of the goal. St. Clair made a full-extension drive, and with his fingertips, he was able to knock it out of bounds. He had his first true test of the match and he passed with flying colors. In the 59th minute, it was Michael Miller whose shot traveled to the left side of the goal. But St. Clair stepped up once again to keep the game scoreless.
Both teams traded scoring opportunities, but nothing came particularly close until the 85th minute. Justin Gielen had a chance to be the hero late, as a through ball came right in to give him chance on a header. The freshman’s effort was nearly perfect, evading Hague entirely before bouncing off the crossbar and out of the box. That missed opportunity sent the match into overtime.
In the regular season finale, Maryland allowed a goal less than a minute into overtime to Michigan. And three minutes in, the Spartans nearly won it. But St. Clair made a stop, which gave the Terrapins the chance to win it later on.
And win it they did, as off a Lansade shot in the 97th minute, Matzelevich gathered the rebound to beat Hague on the team’s 19th shot of the night. After being the better team all day, the Terrapins finally had something to show for it.
Three things to know
1. Eric Matzelevich was the hero. Maryland’s season was on the brink, and the sophomore pulled through in the biggest moment. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time, as he beat Hague off a rebound to keep the team’s hopes alive.
2. Dayne St. Clair kept Maryland in it. The redshirt junior was forced to make just one save in the first half, but he was put to work coming out of the break. On two shots in the 55th and 59th minutes, St. Clair made a pair of incredible diving stops to keep the game scoreless. And in overtime, he added two saves to finish the match with five, four of which were nearly goals.
3. It’s on to Indiana. Maryland just beat the No. 17 team in the nation in Michigan State, a huge boost to the NCAA Tournament resume. But instead of leaving things to chance, the Terrapins are one step closer to winning the Big Ten tournament, which comes with an auto-bid. Next up on the list is a road matchup with No. 2 Indiana, which is sure to be a tough test. The Hoosiers took down Maryland 2-1 in Bloomington earlier this season.