In what seems like a redemption path, the Maryland men’s soccer team defeated the NC State Wolfpack, 2-0, Sunday to advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament.
Two goals from two seniors lifted the Terps (9-6-4) over the Wolfpack (10-7-3), as midfielder Amar Sejdic scored in the 11th minute to put his team up early, and forward Sebastian Elney scored early in the second half to secure the 2-0 win.
Head coach Sasho Cirovski called this the “best overall performance of the season” and praised the seniors as well as the rest of the Maryland squad for attacking and defending so well against a Wolfpack team that scored four goals against Campbell to reach the second-round matchup. NC State managed to shoot only once in 90 minutes.
“This was a vintage Maryland playoff performance,” Cirovski said. “We were on the front foot from beginning to end. We defended relentlessly, and we kept attacking from the first minute until the last minute.”
Sejdic scored the first goal of the match on a failed clear attempt by sophomore goalkeeper Leon Krapf, who tried to launch the ball out of harm’s way but instead sent it right to Sejdic’s feet. After Sejdic took a couple touches inside the box, his shot went past Krapf to the far post.
“I honestly really didn’t expect it,” Sejdic said. “When it fell to my feet, I took that touch to the left and saw that little pocket of space in the corner and just picked it out.”
The Terps started the second half right where they left off in the first, attacking Krapf and wearing down the defense, as well as not letting the Wolfpack establish any sort of attack.
The constant pressure paid off in the 57th minute, when Elney put the Terps up 2-0. Junior Donovan Pines got the initial header off the corner kick from junior Eli Crognale that hit the right post, but Elney was there with a rebound header to give the Terps a two-goal advantage.
“I think that in tournaments like this that any small little deflection can lead one way or another to a goal,” Sejdic said. “So getting a security goal is definitely comforting for the mindset of team and knowing that we do have the frontfoot.”
The Terps finished the match with a 13-1 shot advantage, after holding NC State to zero shots, let alone on goal, for the entire first half.
“We had to make sure that we had a great understanding between our two centerbacks and our two defensive midfielders on how to shut them down,” Cirovski said. “I thought we couldn’t have done a better job.”
The Wolfpack’s one and only shot attempt came off the foot of midfielder Aidan Foster in the 78th minute, but a diving save from redshirt junior Dayne St. Clair kept the Terps up 2-0.
With this win, the Terps advance to the third round of the NCAA Tournament after not making it past the first round last season, falling to Albany via penalty kicks. This is the first time that Maryland will be playing in a third-round tournament match since 2015.
“This was a total team performance,” Cirovski said. “I couldn’t be happier with where we are as a group right now, and we’re excited for what is ahead next week.”
The Terps will await the results of the No. 6-seed Duke and Pacific game to find out their next opponent and where they will be playing. A Pacific win means another home match, but a Duke win means a trip to Durham, North Carolina.
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