Despite being outplayed for much of the match, Maryland men’s soccer managed to tie it up early in the second half to put themselves in a good position to earn a quality result against Northwestern.
But ten minutes after the equalizing score, the Terps were put back on their heels after a lofted cross from Northwestern midfielder Matt Moderwell found its way to the top right corner of the net, putting the Wildcats up 2-1 in the 65th minute.
The Terps continued to fall apart in the final 25 minutes of play, allowing another Wildcat goal to lose their first home match of the season 3-1.
“We gave ourselves a chance,” midfielder Matt Di Rosa said. “We just threw it away in the end.”
Tactically maneuvering through the final third to generate opportunities while taking advantage of Maryland’s disorganization on clearances, the Wildcats out-shot the Terps 5-2 in the first half, although Maryland ultimately finished back in front at 10-8 for the match.
The Wildcats (4-3) were the aggressors from the game’s opening tap, drawing a corner kick within the match’s first ten seconds, while jumping in front of the Terps (3-3) just four minutes into the match.
“You never wanna let a team score that early on you and generate that kind of confidence,” head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “That’s the third time this year that I thought we’ve started the game really poorly, and that’s too many out of the first six games.”
Sophomore midfielder Bardia Kimiavi scored off a rolling cross from Moderwell that managed to sneak past the Terps back line to the back post. Kimiavi darted behind midfielder Matt Di Rosa to place it in the back of the net to put the Wildcats up 1-0.
The first five minutes of the match would serve as microcosm of the first half, as Northwestern would continue to gash the Terps offensively throughout the first 45 minutes.
With Eli Crognale sitting on the bench to begin the match as a precaution, the first start he’s missed this season, the Terps offense struggled to string together quality touches in the attacking third. Utilizing a host of different forward and midfield combinations led by Luke Brown, David Kovacic and Brayan Padilla, Maryland’s offense couldn’t crack Northwestern’s back line through the early going.
It wasn’t until the 54th minute that the Terps were able to equalize, as Padilla notched his second goal of the season to give Maryland’s offense the shot in the arm it desperately needed. The up-and-coming sophomore received the ball from Brown, where he’d turn and and dart towards the edge of the box and fire a missile into the bottom left corner to even the score.
“It was a great ball by Luke [Brown],” Padilla said. “I just saw a chance to shoot and I went for it.”
But Moderwell’s wonder strike from 20 yards out hemorrhaged whatever momentum the Terps’ offense had going, as they would go on to register zero shots on goal from that moment on and drop their first Big Ten match of the season.
“Full credit to Northwestern tonight, they came here and put in a great shift,” Cirovski said. “Just an uncharacteristic home, Friday night effort for us. Just feel gutted and empty with that.”
Three Things to Know
1. It was an uncharacteristically poor showing for Maryland’s back line. For a unit that’s been that’s been rock solid, especially at home, the Terps back line didn’t look like themselves on Friday night.
The three goals Maryland allowed Friday were the first three they’ve conceded at Ludwig this season. The backline nearly left its keeper out to dry on several occasions due to sloppy connectivity on clearances. With the Maryland offense going hot-and-cold at times, Cirovski needs his defense to look sharper than they did tonight.
2. Will Hervé’s anticipated return to the pitch was short-lived. After missing the previous four matches, midfielder Will Hervé made his return to the field Friday night, only to re-aggravate his lower body muscle injury eight minutes into the match.
The sophomore from France would go on to miss the rest of the match, robbing the Terps of the influential offensive player they needed.
3. Fouls were an issue for the Terps in this one. Cirovski has managed to keep his team playing disciplined ball through the early part of this year’s campaign, but that wasn’t the case in tonight’s match.
Maryland committed 15 fouls on Friday night, tied for the most they’ve allowed all season, and the most they’ve committed since since the Virginia match. It was just an uncharacteristically poor showing from the Terps all-around in this one.