No. 17 Maryland men’s soccer came out of halftime with a one-goal lead over Michigan, looking to hold on to end its regular season with a victory.
But in the 47th minute, a run by Michigan senior forward Nebojsa Popovic set up fellow senior forward Jack Hallahan with an opportunity to cross from just outside the box. Laying it up perfectly, sophomore forward Derick Broche flied in to bounce it past Maryland freshman keeper Niklas Neumann to tie the score at 2-2.
Less than 10 minutes later, Broche and Hallahan hooked up once again to break the Terp defense. With Hallahan on the receiving end this time around, the senior from Ireland headed it off the crossbar and into the goal to take the lead. Maryland was never able to get the match back in its control, giving up another goal and suffering a 4-2 defeat Sunday.
“We have to get back to doing more simple things to win games,” head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “We can’t give up three goals on the road and [four goals at home and expect to win.]”
The start of the afternoon was a much different story.
After scoring just nine minutes into the match against Penn State last Tuesday, Maryland’s attack again wasted no time getting into the scoring column, doing so in the 4th minute of Sunday’s match to seize an early lead over the Wolverines.
The goal was credited to junior forward Eric Matzelevich, but the heavy lifting was done by junior defender Ben Di Rosa, who tip-toed up the end line and fed it across the box to Matzelevich, who gently tapped it home to give Maryland an early 1-0 lead.
But the Wolverines didn’t allow the Terps to extend their lead, equalizing only four minutes later.
On a ball played in the air into the box from outside the 18, junior defender Jackson Ragen leaped to head it forward but collided by Neumann, sending him into the pitch with the ball in a critical area. Finding himself in the right place at the right time, junior forward Mohammed Zakyi opportunistically headed it home to tie thing back up at 1-1.
While head coach Sasho Cirovski still fuming on the sideline over the no-call on the Ragen-Neumann collision, the Terps responded in 13th minute.
With plenty of space to operate, junior defender Ben Di Rosa played perhaps his best cross of the season, whipping it in to senior midfielder Eli Crognale, who knocked it in to give put the Terps back up 2-1.
“That’s exactly how we wanted to play,” Cirovski said. “You get two goals like that at home, you should win the game.”
Crognale’s third goal capped an early scoring spree from both sides that eventually slowed to a halt as the half went on, with Maryland nursing a 2-1 lead at halftime.
The scoring picked up once again as the second half commenced — though not in the Terps’ favor, as the Wolverines managed to take their first lead of the game in a span of less than 10 minutes.
“Every time they would just take it at you and get a cross off,” Di Rosa said. “If they put that many balls in it’s tough to clear them all, but we still gotta be a little better in the box.”
A now-disheartened Maryland club struggled to create dangerous scoring opportunities as the half wore on, struggling to string together passes in Michigan’s half of the field to find an equalizer. The 90th minute nearly saw the Terps equalize in the form of a 20-yard strike from junior forward Eric Matzelevich, but a leaping save by Michigan keeper Owen Finnerty kept the ball from finding the back of the net.
After Neumann came across the field on the ensuing corner, Hallahan managed to break away from all 11 Terps and send one on goal from midfield, where it’d slowly roll for 60 yards before breaking the plane to give Michigan the 4-2 victory.
Three Things to Know
1. Maryland will be on the road to begin the Big Ten tournament. Maryland wasn't able to secure home-field advantage in the first round of the Big Ten tournament, thanks to the loss. The Terps will now enter as the sixth seed and will travel to Evanston to face Northwestern, a team they lost to 3-1 earlier this season.
Having won just once away from Ludwig Field this season, the Terps could be in for a tough test in their first round matchup.
“It’s disappointing,” senior defender Johannes Bergmann said. “Our goal was obviously to play [the quarterfinal at Ludwig] but it didn’t work out so we have to embrace the challenge, we have to prepare ourselves for Northwestern and we have to beat them there.”
2. The Terps have allowed seven goals over their last two matches. For a unit that’s looked impenetrable for stretches this season, Maryland’s defense has looked uncharacteristically porous over their last two matches. Allowing Michigan to out-shoot them 16-9, the Terp defense could use some fine-tuning if this teams wants any chance at a postseason run.
“We know that we can defend very well, we did it before,” Bergmann said. “We had a lot of clean sheets, so we just have to remind ourselves what it takes to keep the sheet clean, we need a good week of practice now and then we move on.”
3. Maryland couldn’t create corner kick chances. For a team that ranks sixth in Division I in corner kicks per game, Maryland struggled to possess the ball consistently in threatening positions to create corner kicks for themselves.
The Terps have been opportunistic with their corner kicks all year, with two resulting in match-winning goals earlier this season, but couldn’t manage to do what they’ve done so well all season on Sunday.