In a chippy match on a water-logged pitch at DeMartin Stadium in East Lansing, Maryland men’s soccer found itself trailing Michigan State 1-0 with a little over ten minutes still to play.
Having not connected on any of their previous eleven shots, a perfectly placed free kick from senior defender Johannes Bergmann dropped to the head of Justin Gielen, who hammered home his first goal of the season to knot the two teams at one in the 77th minute.
Neither team could get ahead before the end of regulation, and the game was forced to end in a 1-1 draw before the start of overtime due to bad weather conditions.
“The conditions were horrible,” head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “Yet through those difficult conditions I thought our guys still managed to play some really good soccer.”
The red-hot Terps offense spent a good part of the match’s early going without a shot on goal, probing the Michigan State defensive third in pursuit of the right opportunity to score. Signs of the improved connectivity between Maryland’s forwards and midfielders were evident, though, as the Terp attackers precisely executed more than a few combination plays to open up the Spartan defense.
Maryland’s effectiveness on the press helped contribute to some of its offensive production as well, managing to dispossess Michigan State on several attempted clearances to win back possession. The Terps used those added opportunities to loft a few balls into the box toward a keeper’s box that was mired in mud, but Michigan State keeper Hunter Morse managed to prevent any of those chances from finding the back of the net in the first half.
The Spartan attack primarily looked to create through the counter-attack, catching the Terps playing a bit too forward at times and allowing for long runs on goal. Thanks to his pace, sophomore forward Farai Mutatu found daylight on Maryland’s defensive half on the counter, carrying it to the edge of the box and letting it rip on a couple occasions.
But Michigan’s lone score of the evening would come from a player who had yet to record a point so far this season despite leading the team in minutes played. Coming off of a perfectly serviced through ball from freshman forward Gianni Ferri, senior Michael Pimlott darted past sophomore defender Brett St. Martin and into the center of the box where he’d slot it past freshman Terp keeper Niklas Neumann to score his first goal of the season and put the Spartans up 1-0 just before the half.
As the rain continued to pick up into the second half, the pitch at DeMartin Stadium became less and less conducive to almost any kind of open-style of play the Terps could’ve utilized offensively. With the top of the Maryland formation forced to contract due to the slow playing pitch, the Terps began to try and create offensively through corner kicks, generating nine corner kicks in the second half after drawing zero in the first.
But it would be off of a free-kick that Maryland would finally score their first goal of the match, with Bergmann providing the perfect service to Gielen for the goal. But the Terps could never add on the second they needed, ending in a Big Ten draw for the second time this season.
“Throughout the year, I had gotten close on headers specifically, so it feels really good to finally have a header go through,” Gielen said. “I feel like that’s just the beginning, you know opening the floodgates and I’m ready to keep it going.”
Three Things to Know
- Maryland remains winless on the road this season. Although a good majority of Maryland’s matches will be played at Ludwig Field this season, the Terps still have yet to walk away from a road game with a win. Now at 0-1-2 in road matches, Maryland will only have two more opportunities prove themselves away from home before postseason play begins.
“I thought we deserved better than a tie in this game,” Cirovski said. “We certainly had a lot of momentum throughout the whole second half.”
2. The Terps drop further in the Big Ten standings as well. Tonight’s draw puts Maryland at 1-1-2 in the Big Ten, which will likely drop them in conference standings. There’s still plenty of in-conference matches still to be played this season, but it’s been yet another slow start to Big Ten play for the Terps.
3. Maryland’s offense generated nine shots on goal, but managed just one goal. The Terps have shown a growing adeptness at creating shots as this season has progressed, but it hasn’t always translated to goals. Tonight was another such night in which Maryland created opportunities to score with relative ease, with nine shots on goal in this match, but just one goal.
Though Cirovski will at least be content walking away with a result, his team could’ve secured a win if they converted on one of their several chances to go in front.