For the first time since joining the Big Ten conference in 2014, Maryland will not be the conference tournament champion.
Maryland’s losing streak extended to five games after giving up a late game-winning goal for the second straight week.
The No. 24 Maryland Terrapins (10-5-3, 5-2-2) lost to the Wisconsin Badgers (9-4-4, 5-3-1) 2-1 in the first round of the Big Ten tournament at Ludwig Field on Sunday afternoon.
“We’ve been snakebit. We don’t deserve all these results,” head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “There may have been one game that we were outplayed in these five losses.”
Indiana holding midfielder Noah Leibold canceled out Maryland’s first lead in almost a month with a goal early in the second half, but winger Mark Segbers’ goal in the 87th minute won the game and had Wisconsin advancing to the Big Ten semifinals.
Wisconsin got the first big chance of the game 13 minutes in as Dayne St. Clair dove to keep Tom Barlow’s back post header out of the net and quickly recovered to send Chris Mueller’s rebound over the net in spectacular fashion.
The back post cross came just moments after midfielder Mark Segbers smashed a shot against the near post from a quick counter attack.
However, Maryland opened the scoring in the 27th minute from Elney’s strike inside the box after a surging run and assist from midfielder Jake Rozhansky. The Terps led for the first time in 23 days – when they last played Wisconsin on Oct. 13.
Sophomore center back Donovan Pines returned to the starting lineup after missing two games due to a concussion to further bolster the Maryland defense. Johannes Bergmann filled in at left back for the injured Chase Gasper while Miles Stray partnered with Pines.
Despite getting Pines back, Cirovski said that Gasper’s injury is a particularly big loss.
“We’re missing Chase Gasper who is a great on the field leader for us,” Cirovski said. “We miss him dearly because he’s a warrior and we can’t wait to get him back on the field.”
Pines and company couldn’t avoid conceding a goal as Leibold equalized the game five minutes into the second half by cleaning up a scramble for the ball from a Wisconsin corner kick for his first goal of the season.
“There’s guys that are supposed to be picking up the guys at the top of the box and we did not pick them up,” Cirovski said. “That’s a simple responsibility and a blown assignment.”
St. Clair added that the tying goal had not only affected the scoreboard, but also the mentality of the players.
“I think it was very evident we were playing our style and our game in the first half,” St. Clair said. “I think when they scored that goal in the first five minutes of the half, it set some guys back a little bit and we tried to fight but they got that goal at the end.”
Both teams picked up the attacking play after the game-tying goal, with chances flying towards each goal. The foul count and four yellow cards showed the feisty style of play both teams had with a place to the Big Ten semifinals on the line. Wisconsin’s assistant coach was also shown red for dissent.
With three minutes left in the match, the nation’s leading assist man and Badger Chris Mueller found his 14th assist of the season at the ideal time. His low cross was driven in towards the six yard box and Stray failed to prevent Segbers from getting the most important touch of the game.
That final and all-important touch to score the goal eliminated Maryland from the Big Ten tournament for the first time since joining the conference in 2014.
While Maryland was unable to snap the losing streak or advance to the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament, the Terps will more than likely host a playoff game at Ludwig Field in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
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