WESTFIELD, IND—The Terrapins did it again. For the fifth consecutive season, the University of Maryland men’s soccer team advanced to their conference tournament championship game.
No. 4-seed MSU was defeated by No. 1 Maryland, the top seed in the conference, at the Grand Park Soccer Complex on Friday, by a final score of 2-1.
The Spartans started regulation on the offensive and kept the ball in Terrapin territory for much of the first 10 minutes. As regulation progressed, Maryland fired two shots at MSU redshirt-sophomore goalkeeper Jimmy Hague and the Terrapins drew first blood thanks to a goal by sophomore forward Gordon Wild in the 16th minute. Junior midfielder Jake Rozhansky was credited with the assist. Wild’s goal tied a collegiate career-best 16 goals.
MSU attempted to rally back in the 32nd minute, but couldn’t generate enough pressure inside Terrapin territory. The Spartans gathered two shots within the span of a minute, including a free kick from sophomore defenseman Connor Corrigan, but the score remained 1-0 in Maryland’s favor.
The teams remained in gridlock for the remainder of the first half, with the Terrapins still holding onto the 1-0 advantage. MSU and UMD were tied in the shots department, but the Terrapins held a 2-1 shots-on-goal advantage. Sophomore forward Ryan Sierakowski took two of MSU’s four shots. Foul trouble nagged the Spartans in the first half, with seven in total while the Terrapins committed five.
Shortly after the second half began, the Spartans missed one of their best scoring chances of the afternoon. Sierakowski found his way down field and broke away from Terrapin defenders, but with a better angle optioned to junior defender Brad Centala. Sierakowski barely overshot Centala and the shot missed wide.
In the minutes to follow, the Terrapins brought a flurry of shots, and over-aggressiveness would cost dearly for the Spartans. An attempt to break the ball free from Maryland’s sophomore midfielder Amar Sejdic resulted in a yellow card for Centala and a penalty kick for Sejdic, about 10 yards short of the goal. The kick was good and Maryland took a 2-0 lead in the 60th minute. The goal was Sejdic’s seventh of the season.
MSU had another chance to reach the scoreboard in the 72nd minute, but a header from freshman wing Giuseppe Barone went right into the hands of Maryland fifth-year senior goalkeeper Cody Niedermeier. Two minutes later a shot from junior midfielder Ken Krolicki was stopped.
The Spartans finally found the scoreboard in the 85th minute, after MSU’s fourth corner kick of the game found the net. The goal was ruled an own-goal.
The Spartans were aggressive throughout the game, and out-shot UMD 15-6 and led 6-3 in total shots-on-goal. MSU had four corner kicks and out-foulled the Terrapins 14-12.
MSU also receieved both yellow cards handed out in the game. Centala‘s penalty-inducing card in the 60th minute was followed by a caution given to sophomore forward Hunter Barone.
With the win, Niedermeier picked up his 16th win of the season, which leads all the Big Ten among goalkeepers.
Although ranked No. 12 in the country prior to the game, it is still unconfirmed whether MSU will clinch a berth in the NCAA Tournament. The NCAA selection committee will announce the field of the NCAA Tournament following the conclusion of each of the 17 conference championship games on Sunday, with the selection ceremony set to start at 1 p.m. on Monday.
No. 3 Wisconsin defeated No. 2 Indiana on Friday to advance to the Big Ten Tournament championship game and took on the Terrapins on Sunday. The Badgers were able to upset the Hoosiers in penalty kicks to advance. Maryland, however, was able to take home their fifth-straight conference title championships after defeating the Badgers 2-1.