After 46 minutes of being unable to solve Michigan State’s defense, Maryland men’s soccer was finally able to break through.
Senior forward Eric Matzelevich was shot out of a cannon as he was streaking towards the left side of the Spartans’ penalty area when he delivered a soft ground ball pass into the center of the box, which found the feet of redshirt senior forward Paul Bin. The team captain was taken down hard and the referee blew his whistle, signaling a penalty for the Terps’ side.
Bin, who scored in Maryland’s last win against Michigan, calmly stepped up to the task and knocked in his second goal of the season into the bottom right corner of the goal from the spot to give the Terps a vital one-goal advantage.
Maryland didn’t relinquish its lead for the remainder of the second half and even scored a second goal en route to a 2-1 victory over Michigan State Friday afternoon in College Park, notching its third straight win.
“I’m delighted with the complete performance today,” Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “We started on the front foot, dictated the tempo throughout the first half.”
The Terps improve to a .500 record for the first time this season. Maryland started the 2021 campaign with three straight losses, but have since taken down Wisconsin, Michigan and now Michigan State. Maryland is now tied with Rutgers in the Big Ten standings with nine points.
The first 15 minutes of the match saw a stalemate between both sides, as there was just one combined shot attempt in the opening minutes. Maryland seemed to be the better side in the early goings, though, generating most of the early possession, but it couldn’t break through.
The Terps had the first real chance of the match off a set piece on the left side as redshirt senior forward Mike Heitzmann whipped a ball with his left foot into the box, which entered a crowd of players. Freshman midfielder Ben Bender, who came into this game leading Maryland in total shot attempts, managed to get a piece of the ball on the cross, but it shanked off his head and it fluttered wide right of the Michigan State cage as the game remained scoreless in the 15th minute.
Maryland continued to put pressure on the Michigan State back line, while also clamping the Spartans on the defensive end as the first half continued. The Terps generated three corners and attempted three shots with one on target by the 25th minute, while the Spartans failed to register one shot attempt in the entire half. However, Maryland still couldn't find its first goal of the match.
Redshirt sophomore midfielder/defender Nick Richardson propelled Maryland’s attack forward and was taken down on the right wing in the 40th minute, giving the Terps another set piece chance off the free kick. Junior forward Brayan Padilla delivered a beautiful looking ball that curled into the box, which found the head of sophomore defender Chris Rindov, however, his header went well left of the Spartans’ net as another opportunity for the Terps went to waste.
The Terps’ press on attack couldn’t break the ice as the Spartans seemed content with sitting back in their own defensive third for the rest of the first half. Both sides went into the break scoreless, as there were just two combined shot attempts that hit the target (both from Maryland) through the first 45 minutes.
The second half saw Maryland’s attack come right of the gates with a high quality run from Matzelevich on the left side, which led to Bin’s penalty and score.
“I just knew I had to take it, I knew I had to step up and take the responsibility,” Bin said.
After Bin tallied his second goal of the season off the penalty to give the Terps a one-goal lead, Maryland kept its press on the Spartans’ defense.
Maryland’s aggressive offensive attack consistently thwarted any attacking time for Michigan State in the final 45 minutes. The Spartans generated just four shots in the second half and didn’t register a shot on sophomore goalkeeper Niklas Neumann until the 90th minute.
The Terps’ attack generated some insurance in the 75th minute. Rindov lofted a ball near midfield, which made its way toward the top of the box. Bin corralled in the bouncing ball, sprung towards the right side of the box and smacked in his second goal of the game with a strike that hit the top right corner of the cage to give Maryland a 2-0 lead.
“An absolute beast, an animal. He’s an animal,” Matzelevich said of Bin’s performance.
The two-goal lead for the Terps proved too much for the Spartans to overcome, even though Michigan State went on to find the back of the net in the 90th minute. The Spartans scored on their first shot on target of the game as the ball passed sophomore goalie Niklas Neumann into the Maryland net.
The clock eventually expired on the Spartans’ last second comeback attempt, as their first goal came too late in the match and Maryland went on to win by one.
“Ultimately, the three points is the most anyone can ask for on this team and I’m just really glad that we got the three points today and we’re just moving up,” Bin said.
Three Things to Know
1. Freshman forward Jacen Russell-Rowe exited with an injury. Russell-Rowe went down in the seventh minute on Michigan State’s end of the pitch. He was checked out by a team trainer and needed help walking off the field. Russell-Rowe came into this game leading Maryland in goals with two on the season. The freshman has been an impactful player in his five matches that he played in this season and this injury will certainly hurt the Terps if it sidelines him for an extended period of time.
2. Maryland’s defense continues to improve. Another game, another solid defensive showing from the Terps. After giving up six goals in its first three matches of the season, Maryland has given up just two goals in its last three matches. The Terps’ defensive structure has certainly tightened over the course of the last few games, which has resulted in positive results. If Maryland can continue to stifle its opponents on the defensive end, it should only find itself climbing the Big Ten standings in the near future.
“Obviously we had a week off, so we were preparing for this for awhile,” Matzelevich said. “So it’s really good to put in the preparation and then see the results at the very end.”
3. The Terps continue to march their way up the Big Ten standings. After the win against Michigan State, Maryland has now collected a crucial nine points in its last three games. The Terps have fought their way back to a .500 record after the dismal 0-3 start to the 2021 campaign. Maryland is clearly getting hot at the right time, as there are only four games remaining on the regular season schedule. Next time out, the Terps will take on Rutgers to see if they can capture their fourth straight win.