The Maryland men’s soccer team has played four games so far this season, two of which have gone to overtime. And after a 1-0 loss at the hands of UCLA, the Terrapins have still yet to score a goal in 2018.
Senior Sebastian Elney had been the hero in the past two meetings between the teams in College Park, but due to an ankle injury, he was forced to miss this one. Without his leadership on the field, the Terps couldn’t capitalize on any opportunities on attack, and the scoring drought has reached 400 minutes to kick off the season.
The game started out rather chippy, and that would set the tone for the entire day. After the first 45 minutes, the teams combined for 16 fouls, and a yellow card was issued to each team. On a field that was pounded by rain the night before, the play was noticeably sloppy across the board.
UCLA registered the only shot on goal in the half. That came in the eighth minute when Mohammed Kamara ripped one towards the right post. Dayne St. Clair dove and extended his left arm as far as he could, barely knocking the ball out of bounds.
The Bruins would get three more shots off before the break, all coming after the 30th minute. However, none of them were close, allowing St. Clair to take it easy as he had in the past week. Meanwhile, Maryland’s only shot of the half was blocked in the fourth minute, with no other chances coming up before the halftime break.
For a team that has been incapable of scoring like Maryland has, any opposing goal could be a nail in the coffin. After being denied earlier in the game, Kamara decided that his next scoring chance would be the one to change the narrative of UCLA playing at Ludwig Field, at least for 2018.
On a perfect cross from senior Erik Holt, who had suffered through both overtime losses that came from the leg of Elney, Kamara used all of his 6-foot frame to rise above the defense and head the ball past St. Clair. That gave the Bruins their first goal since Aug. 28, and it would be the only goal they needed to defeat the Terps.
That’s not to say that Maryland didn’t have any chances to tie the game. In fact, the Terps had a wide variety of opportunities, registering five shots in the second half. But as has been the case all season, accuracy was an issue: only one shot was on goal, making Justin Garces’ day pretty stress-free.
Three things to know
1. It’s time to be concerned. Perhaps the worries were quieted somewhat in the past two games due to the Terrapins’ ability to draw superior opponents. That shouldn’t be the case now, as another shutout led to a loss at home. Whether the answer is shaking up personnel or formation/strategy is unclear right now, but Sasho Cirovski will need to fix this glaring ineptitude on offense.
2. The defense let up. The back line had put together great performances in consecutive games against Stanford and Virginia, but there were noticeable lapses in the unit’s play Saturday. UCLA was able to take nine shots, and five of those were on net. St. Clair was tested more than he had been in the previous two games combined, and he gave up his first goal in a long time.
3. They’ll be on very short rest for West Virginia. The game was moved from Friday night to Saturday afternoon, which cuts the rest before Monday’s game from two full days to just one. The Terrapins have lacked burst and energy at most times this season even on full rest, which makes the schedule change especially frightening.