By Jack Parry
A pop circulated throughout the stadium as Maryland midfielder David Kovacic slid into a challenge against a George Mason player. A yellow card was handed out and discussions began between players and the referee over the decision. Their frustration seemed to be not just from the tackle, as the scoreboard showed a 2-0 deficit.
George Mason’s frustrations would only grow as the game progressed, as Maryland men’s soccer defeated the Patriots in a wire-to-wire 2-0 victory at home at Ludwig Field.
In their first Friday night game in almost two years, the Terps threatened the Patriots early in the penalty area. Ben Bender looked for a chance down the right side but GMU’s Jonathan Fawole expertly tackled the ball out for a goal kick.
Shortly following kickoff, Maryland looked antsy to score. Off a free kick delivery from Nick Richardson in the fourth minute, Forward Justin Gielen broke through to make contact with the ball, but headed it wide right. Gielen broke through again in the tenth, but his shot was deflected wide right.
For the Terrapins, the breakthrough didn’t take long. Following a picture perfect long ball from Hunter George, Joshua Bolma took the ball on the left side of the penalty area. He broke down his defender and curled a shot just inside the right post in the 13th minute to give Maryland a one goal advantage, sending the student section into a frenzy.
George Mason looked to bounce back a few minutes later as Luciano Covella and Balint Kosco both had shots in front of goal. Both were saved by Maryland as keeper Jamie Lowell caught the ball off of a deflection.
Maryland looked to add a goal toward the end of the half, as Brayan Padilla had only the Patriot goalkeeper in front of him. What followed was a miraculous save by Jackson Lee, keeping GMU out of a two goal hole.
Coming out of the half, both sides had chances in the box. However both shots went wide, leaving the sides where they were.
Throughout the first half, Chris Rindov looked composed in the back. Barking out defensive directions and controlling the line. In the 62nd minute, he got his chance to shine on the offensive side. The defensemen got his head on a corner kick from Ben Bender and directed it past the goalie to his left. Giving the Terps the 2-0 lead and Rindov his first ever collegiate goal.
Jacen Russell Rowe looked sharp all game, the forward came off the bench with some great play in attack. He looked close to capitalizing in the 78th with a header on target. However it sailed right into Jackson Lee’s arms, preventing him from appearing on the score sheet.
The Patriots remained stuck in their own way and couldn’t seem to find any cracks in the Terps’ shell, as they only managed a total of four shots all game. Meanwhile, the Terps seemed eager to score and didn’t slow down, managing 6 shots both in the first and second half.
The Terps dominated in the second half as their passing and overall teamplay looked up to snuff. The visiting Patriots couldn’t seem to match the Terrapin fervor as they struggled with their possessions in the final third, as the Terps ran away with a 2-0 victory to improve to 3-0 on the young season.
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