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No. 3 Maryland men’s soccer falls 3-2 to UCLA

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The Terrapins lose their second consecutive match, this time to an unranked squad.

Lila Bromberg / Testudo Times

Seeing Maryland redshirt freshman goalkeeper Russell Shealy out of place, UCLA foward Milan Iloski took his chance. The junior flicked the ball in toward the middle and dribbled by Shealy to the front of the net. After faking out the goalkeeper, Iloski was able to slot home the goal, making the Terrapins defense look silly.

Iloski’s score, his third of the game, would put No. 3 Maryland men’s soccer far enough out of reach to do the trick. The Terrapins were able to slot home a second goal in the 71st minute, but couldn’t find the tying score, falling 3-2 to the Bruins in their second consecutive loss.

Maryland outshot UCLA 11 to eight, with one more goal on target. The Terrapins also took 10 corners and withstood 14 fouls and two cards from the Bruins. Shealy finished the night with two saves, while UCLA’s Justin Garces had four to keep Maryland out of reach.

In the first half, both teams had chances and split possession quite evenly. The Terps got on the board first thanks to a goal by junior forward Eric Matzelevich in the sixth minute. Senior midfielder Eli Crognale slotted a pass to the target man in between a pair of UCLA defenders and Matzelevich was able to put in his own rebound.

The Bruins were able to level the scoreline at one goal a piece in the 19th minute as Iloski took a pass from his brother Eric and was able to sneak a ball past Shealy on the counterattack.

Both teams began trading fouls towards the end of the first half and UCLA’s midfielder Andrew Paoli picked up a yellow card in the 42nd minute, but the game remained tied at 1-1.

Maryland came out firing in the second half and nearly took the lead as sophomore forward Brayan Padilla’s half volley was saved and cleared off of the line. The Bruins took momentum from that save as Iloski notched his second goal of the game in the 51st minute. Shortly after, he scored his third.

With his third shot on the night, Padilla was able to put his mark on the game, slotting home his first career goal — a beautiful free-kick in the 71st minute — to cut the UCLA lead back down to one goal.

The Terrapins continued to apply pressure to the UCLA backline as time wound down, but were unable to level the score, leaving the images of Iloski breaching the Maryland defense playing in their heads.

Three things to know

1. Shealy certainly didn’t win the job. Head coach Sasho Cirovski has been open about the situation at goalkeeper in College Park, stating Maryland will continue to alternate options until one player sticks out in net. Shealy got his chance to make another impression after starting the Terps’ 1-0 win over USF, but didn’t match that performance tonight.

The Terps gave up a hat trick to Iloski, but Shealy had quite the negative moment on the third goal, getting caught out of place and unable to react in time. Look for freshman Niklas Neumann to probably get another chance in net when the Terrapins return home to face Akron.

2. Maryland struggled on defense. Similar to their last outing against Virginia, the Terrapins suffered a small lapse in concentration, which allowed the Bruins to add two goals within 12 minutes of each other in the second half. Just when it looked like Maryland came out with some fire, the defense was unable to help its offense maintain that pressure and instead led to a deeper hole.

Though Maryland was able to respond with a goal by Padilla, defensive lapses such as these make things much more difficult for an offense looking to find its rhythm.

3. A home return awaits. After facing Virginia in a neutral site match and a trip out to Los Angeles, Maryland will head home for four matches in a row at Ludwig Field. The homestand starts next Friday with a rematch of the 2018 national championship against Akron. The matchup with Villanova on Sept. 16 was moved to College Park, which will then be followed up with matches against Northwestern and St John’s.

This home stretch could be a vital time for Cirovski and his team to hunker down and focus on finding a rhythm before heading deep into Big Ten play.