With his mom and dad looking on from the bleachers after making the trip from Germany to College Park, Maryland men’s soccer senior captain Johannes Bergmann looked for his opportunity to put on a show.
That opportunity came in the 28th minute, as a beautifully played set-piece by senior midfielder Eli Crognale found a leaping Bergmann, who would use the side of his head to tap it past Indiana’s keeper give No. 25 Maryland a commanding three goal lead over the No. 6 ranked Hoosiers.
The Terps’ three goals in the first half gave them a lead the No. 6 Hoosiers would never threaten to overcome, walking away with a 3-0 victory — their most goals scored against a ranked opponent this season.
“Great performance against a great team,” head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “I asked our guys for strong response after Monday’s disappointment, and they more than gave the right response.”
In a matchup of Big Ten soccer superpowers, Maryland left nothing to chance on Friday night, exhibiting a superior level of class for nearly the entire match. The last meeting of the two teams saw the Terps knock off the Hoosiers in the College Cup semifinals, and Friday night’s victory put Maryland at 3-2 against ranked opponents this season.
The Terps took a little bit to get going, but struck first in this one.
Defender Ben Di Rosa probed for a place to drop a ball in from just outside the box and whipped it in to midfielder Malcolm Johnston. The freshman flicked the ball off his back heel, causing it to deflect around the box off of multiple Indiana defenders. He pinball the ball to Kovacic, who tapped it home from point-blank range to put Maryland up by one with 30 minutes to play in the first half.
The Terps’ menacing offensive play yielded another goal in the 27th minute as Johnston and sophomore forward Justin Gielen linked up to push possession deep into Indiana’s final third. Gielen dumped it off to junior forward Eric Matzelevich, who fired a right-foot strike past Indiana keeper Roman Celetano to give the Terps a 2-0 advantage.
Bergmann’s goal came just a minute later, capping off Maryland’s dominant first half performance with a 3-0 lead going into the break.
“It feels unbelievable, especially tonight,” Bergmann said of scoring his first career goal with the team. “I mean a goal’s always nice but especially since it was my first goal here at Maryland, so it felt very, very good.”
Looking like the more confident team from that point on, the Terps maintained their dominant level of play into the second half as well. The Hoosiers, still in pursuit of their first goal of the match, were smothered by a Maryland defense to finish with zero shots on goal — the lowest mark for a single opponent this season for the Terps.
“Our team defending was as good as its been all year,” Cirovski said. “We put in a full 90 minute shift, it was a terrific performance and I think tonight is a pivotal game in our season.”
The win moves Maryland to 2-1-2 in conference play and hands the first Big Ten loss of the season for the Hoosiers.
Three Things to Know
1. Maryland was at their best in the biggest match of the season. After a disappointing performance last Monday night saw the Terps leave the pitch without a result against No. 13 Georgetown, they responded in a massive way. Playing host to one of the top teams in both the country and the conference, Friday night’s effort proves Maryland can hang with the best Division I has to offer.
2. It was the most first half goals scored by the Terps in over two years. Maryland’s attack has seen its share of struggles to begin games this season, but that was nowhere near the case in this match. Notching their highest first half goal total since 2017 against Santa Clara, the Terps’ three first half goals seemed to put an end to the match before it even hit halftime.
For a unit that’s been hot-and-cold this season, Friday night’s performance could jump-start Maryland’s offense through the final four matches of the season
3. There were plenty of alumni in attendance for tonight’s match. The team honored over 20 former Terps at halftime of Friday night’s match, including Crognale’s older brother, Alex, who currently plays for Columbus Crew SC of the MLS. Maryland’s performance in this match was a nice homage to those who came before them.
“I was just trying to show off for everyone, but it was nice to show off in front of him,” Crognale said of his brother being in attendance. “It was nice having him here. It was a good performance so its a happy feeling.”