WASHINGTON — After going over 500 minutes without allowing a goal, head coach Sasho Cirovski’s defense finally met its match in the form of the No. 12 ranked Cavaliers at Audi Field Monday night.
Virginia dominated the Terps in almost all aspects from the jump, unseating the No. 1 ranked team in the country 2-0 and sending them plummeting back to Earth.
“Very disappointed with our team’s play today,” Cirovski said. “We didn’t match their intensity or their quality particularly in the first fifteen, twenty minutes of the game and that was the most disappointing part of the evening.”
On the same field in which neither club managed to score in 110 minutes of play a year ago, the Cavaliers looked like the clearly superior squad this time around. They totaled 10 shots in the first half alone, finishing with 11 shots for the entire match. Last season, Virginia ranked outside of the top 150 teams in shots on goal per match, averaging just 4.41. But against Maryland in 2019, it reached that mark before the first half even ended.
The Terps struggled to execute on defense throughout the match. While the first goal allowed was set up off of a shot that rebounded off freshman goalkeeper Niklas Neumann’s chest to Cavalier forward Nathanial Crofts for the score, the insurmountable second goal by forward Daryl Dike came off of a turnover committed by the Terps deep in their defending third.
“I think we got off to a flat start,” defender Ben Di Rosa said. “They scored two pretty quick goals and after that we switched formations to try to take some risks, go forward and press their attack.”
Offensively, the Terps continued to attack but were stifled by goalkeeper Colin Shutler and the Cavalier back line. On multiple occasions, Maryland fell just inches short of finding the back of the net, failing to find the bounce it needed to get itself on the board. The Terps finished the match with five shots with just two actually making it on goal.
The Terps’ road won’t get easier anytime soon either. Their next match takes them across the country to face a UCLA team that’s on the fringe of the top 25, followed by a matchup with No. 2 Akron back in College Park. Tonight was just the first of many games this season the team will play against talented opponents, but Maryland will need play with greater execution going forward if it wants a shot at winning those tough, resume-building matchups.
Three Things to Know
1. It was a trial by fire for Niklas Neumann. In his first action since suiting up for KSV Hessen Kassel in Germany, Neumann was forced to perform right away in his first action with the Terps. Having to withstand an onslaught of shots by the Cavaliers, Neumann appeared to keep his cool under the pressure. He made three saves on the evening, with a couple of those saves being quite impressive.
“I think Niklas had an outstanding game,” Cirovski said. “Both of our keepers have done well their first couple of games. Goalkeeping is not our problem at this point.”
2. Maryland fell to a quality club tonight. Given their the No. 1 team in Division I, the Terps were expected to keep it more competitive than they ultimately did. But Virginia has a talented team with an all-time great coach, returning a good bit of their squad that was one of the final sixteen remaining in the College Cup last season. Maryland still has plenty of strong opponents to face on the horizon, but looked fairly overmatched against the first one they faced.
3. The Terps could also find themselves even thinner at forward following this match than they did entering it. With Will Hervé sidelined with a lower body injury he suffered against USF last Thursday, forward Luke Brown was forced to exit Monday night’s game prematurely as well. The extent of his injury is still unknown, but he left the field with a significant limp while clutching his left hip.
“If you’re an attacker, you’re in there to score goals, you're in there to create goals,” senior forward Eric Matzelevich said. “Seeing those guys go out, it’s more kind of fuel to the fire to want to score goals, to get on the end of a cross or make that final pass. So if anything it’s more motivation to keep going and keep scoring goals.”