After honoring the 1968 national championship team, the first ever for Maryland, the 2018 squad could not get it done.
The Terps (4-4-2, 2-2) fell to No. 13 Michigan State on Friday night, unable to come back from a 2-0 deficit after the Spartans put away their second goal late in the second half.
“We just lacked the quality with the ball today,” head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “We caused too many unforced turnovers, didn’t really threaten the goal that much, and I thought today for the first time in a little while we lacked some discipline in our defending.”
Ten minutes into the match, each team had a shot on goal, but neither was controlling possession. But the tide would shift in the 15th minute, as Michigan State defender Patrick Nielsen earned his and the Spartans’ first goal on a free kick from midfielder Jack Beck.
Freshman forward Farai Mutatu doubled the Spartans lead in the 80th minute, racing down the field on a Michigan State counterattack and finishing with a goal to the top right corner of the goal that redshirt junior goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair could not reach.
“Michigan State is an excellent team,” Cirovski said. “They were very hungry from their defeat against Wisconsin and came here with a tremendous work ethic, and I thought their attacking players were very sharp tonight.”
Samuels feels his backline stayed too high in the first half, which led to some fouls like the one that gave the Spartans their first goal.
Michigan State outshot Maryland 11-9, and St. Clair finished with five saves on the night.
Senior forward Sebastian Elney thought his team lacked a spark on the offense, and commended Michigan State on having a disciplined and organized defense that made it hard to break through.
After giving up the Spartans first goal, freshman midfielder William James Herve nearly tied up the score in the 21st minute, but his shot from just outside the box went high of the goal.
With 14 minutes to go in the first half, Pines flicked a header into the box to Elney’s foot, but Michigan State senior goalkeeper Jimmy Hague was able to save a would-be equalizer.
Freshman forward Brayan Padilla entered the game with just under eight minutes until halftime, having sat out the start of the season with an injury. Padilla, an FC Dallas Academy product, came into Maryland as the No. 58 ranked recruit according to Top Drawer Soccer and was called up to the U-17 U.S. National Team.
St. Clair barely saved a shot from Mutatu in the 43rd minute, with the ball bouncing on the goal line, hitting the right post and eventually falling into St. Clair’s hands.
At halftime, the two teams had four shots apiece, and Hague had one more save than St. Clair, 3-2.
Midway through the second half, neither Maryland nor Michigan State had any good chances on goal, with possession constantly shifting back and forth. The Terps put some pressure on the Spartans defense on the wings thanks to a formation change, according to Samuels, but were still unable to put the finishing touch.
After Maryland failed to convert a promising corner kick into a goal, the Spartans launched a counterattack. Racing to get back on defense, junior midfielder Eli Crognale tried to stop senior forward Ryan Sierakowski from racing up the open pitch. Instead, he received his second yellow card and was disqualified for the remainder of the match. He will sit out for the Terps’ next game at Georgetown.
Shortly after, the Spartans scored their second goal on the counter, as Samuels was unable to slow down a streaking Mutatu down the left side of the pitch.
Hague came up with a big save with 7:30 left in the match, diving to his right to stop a shot from Samuels with one hand.
Though the Terps had a few more chances from plays on the wings, they could not stage a comeback to avoid the conference loss.
The Terps have a quick turnaround for their next match, a short road trip to D.C. to face off against Georgetown on Monday at 3 p.m.
“It’ll be painful tonight, and tomorrow we’re going to start focusing on getting ready for Georgetown,” Cirovski said. “We’ve played pretty well on the road and maybe that’s what we need.”
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