When Maryland men’s soccer team couldn’t put the game away against a defensive Wisconsin side at Ludwig Field last Friday, they knew they’d have to use that awful postgame feeling as motivation during a midweek match at Rutgers.
That sting pushed the Terps (3-3-2, 2-1) onto a much needed 2-0 victory in Piscataway, New Jersey on Wednesday afternoon with goals from Eric Matzelevich and Amar Sejdic in each half to seal the deal.
A Matzelevich goal in the 14th minute got Maryland’s confidence going early. Junior midfielder Eli Crognale sent in a dangerous cross to junior centerback Donovan Pines, whose towering header went awry and straight back to Crognale on the sideline.
The Belmont transfer then swung it back into the box where Matzelevich flicked a header on to the top right corner, hitting the crossbar before going in. The goal was Matzelevich’s first of the season, adding to his two goals scored early last year.
Sejdic’s goal mirrored junior forward Paul Bin’s simple strike in Friday’s loss, finding space in the box before slotting home an open-netter after some nice build up play.
The Terps continued to threaten in the attacking third in the first half just like they have done for much of the season. Still, as such as was the case Friday night, Maryland failed to extend its lead to get into a commanding position in the match.
Maryland outshot Rutgers (1-6-1, 0-3) 8-5 in the first half, as the Scarlet Knights were on the front foot for much of the final stages of the opening 45. Still, it was redshirt junior goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair who was busier with three saves compared to Rutgers senior keeper Rafael Pereira’s one. St. Clair finished with four saves.
Head coach Sasho Cirovski’s side outshot Rutgers 16-9 overall after a dominant second half display.
Maryland midfielders Mike Heitzmann and Lucas Leeve made their season debuts in the first half, providing an extra dimension and depth to the Terrapin bench.
Cirovski also shook things up with the starting lineup, starting freshman forward Vinny Lansade while Bin was left out after limping off the field during the loss to Wisconsin. Senior captain and left back Chase Gasper was again ruled out as sophomore Matt Di Rosa stepped up in his place.
After a worrisome second half filled with Maryland possession and shots that failed to trouble Pereira too greatly, the Terps finally got the breathing room they were looking for in the 77th minute.
Crognale lofted a beautiful through pass to freshman midfielder William James Herve, who for the second straight game, cut the ball back from the endline to a wide-open teammate. This time, it was Sejdic who had the easy task of side-footing the ball into the gaping net to make it 2-0.
The game got a bit feisty within 10 minutes left, as some pushing and shoving after the whistle showing the brewing frustration of both sides’ season so far. Spurned scoring chances haunted both teams on the day, but Maryland finally broke through that confidence barrier to punish the Scarlet Knights defense.
Maryland will look to build on this momentum when they travel to Coastal Carolina (4-2) this Sunday afternoon, looking for revenge for the home loss that embodied last season’s sharp decline of form.
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