By Jack Parry
The point of stagnation, a place where no team would like to be in a soccer match. Both Maryland and Virginia’s Men’s Soccer teams seemed to be at this impasse deep in the second half at Audi Field.
However, Maryland forward Brayan Padilla managed to end this period as he intercepted a pass that wasn’t even meant for him. What followed was an absolute scorcher off of Padilla’s left foot from way outside of the attacking box which eked into the top left corner. A moment which gave the Terps the lead in a whirlwind rivalry match.
Padilla’s strike was enough to propel the Terps to a 2-1 victory, defeating the Cavaliers to improve to 4-0 on the season.
The daylight slowly dove under the south end of Audi Field as Maryland Men’s soccer took on the Virginia Cavaliers, a rivalry which persists in spite of the difference in conferences.
The rivalry between the two sides reared itself early. Both Josh Bolma and Hunter George received and provided fouls in the first ten minutes, showing the true chippiness of the competition.
As the Cavaliers looked to push at the top of the penalty area, forward Daniel Wright fell at the edge of the box. Despite cries for a penalty, the attacker was given a yellow card for unsporting conduct, as new rules were enforced in hopes of ridding the game of flopping.
The Terps were eager to get on the board in the 20th as midfielder Malcolm Johnston pierced a shot from outside of the area. As the shot curled to the left, a diving save to UVA goalkeeper Holden Brown’s right kept it a leveled score.
Both sides were able to get the ball in the box early, and they tried to create chances. However, both backlines looked up to the task early on as chances were repelled on either side. It almost seemed like somebody was destined for a breakthrough.
That breakthrough came from the Cavaliers and Michael Tsicoulious. The striker took the ball himself in the box, put it on his left foot, and smashed his laces through the ball guiding it into the side left netting. Virginia’s only shot on target of the first half gave them the 1-0 in the beginning of the 26th minute.
Desperate for a response before half, Maryland looked for a goal of their own. A shot by Brayan Padilla from 20 plus feet was on target, and Ben Bender tried one in the 38th. However, the arms of Virginia’s Holden Brown didn’t waver as the ball sailed right into his gloves both times.
The search for a goal continued at the end of the half with a promising possession from the Terps. Jacen Russel Rowe was spurred by a brilliant pass on the fast break. After maneuvering down the left his shot went straight at the goalie. The rebound was taken on by Caden Stafford whos shot struck the top crossbar in the 44th minute.
Mere seconds later, as Virginialooked poised to take their 1-0 lead to the half, a controversial tackle by the Cavaliers on Brett St. Martin would change the game. The foul awarded Wright his second yellow card, and got the forward sent off right before half. As the Maryland Crew chanted “Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye,” the Virginia lead seemed to have an asterisk as the match entered the halfway stoppage.
As the second half started, Maryland couldn’t seem to find a way to put a final ball inside the box. The Cavaliers seemed to parry any movements from the attacking Terps around the box, managing to keep the likes of Jacen Russell-Rowe and Caden Stafford at bay.
However Maryland started to put in work, looking like a different team energy wise from the half they had just played.
All of this eventually paid off as a scurry by Hunter George in the 61st minute on the right byline ended up in an overzealous foul by Virginia’s Isaiah Byrd, resulting in a penalty. Midfielder Ben Bender stepped up to the spot, and the sophomore looked collected as he forced the ball on the crass into the bottom right corner, giving Maryland a much needed equalizer.
After that, both sides would exchange possession for almost the next 20 minutes, as neither side seemed to get a grip on a winning goal.
Until Padilla stepped up in the 78th minute. With his goal from way downtown giving Maryland the lead about ten minutes before the end of the game.
Virginia got a few chances at an attacking possession, but were thwarted by the raging Terps, who looked to have the upper hand in energy toward the end of the game.
The Terps kept their unbeaten streak alive against a competitive rival, moving them to 4-0 on the season. Maryland looks to keep their roaring start to the season up when they go to Shwa Field to face off against the Georgetown Bulldogs on Saturday September 11th.
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