By Jack Parry
A spinning shot from Caden Stafford rolled on the dirt speckled pitch, nestling into the corner of the goal. Stafford had just connected on an impressive finish to put the Terps up 2-0, an exclamation point on a dominant victory for No. 12 Maryland men’s soccer.
In a Saturday night showdown, the Terps looked to extend their recent two game win streak. Facing off against the Pacific University Tigers at Ludwig Field, Maryland did just that, winning 3-0.
The match started out as a dog fight for possession with not a lot of chances, but after 15 minutes the chances began to come for both sides. A run of transition ended in a set up for a shot right outside the box for Tigers’ midfielder Samuel Villalta in the 17th minute. He took it on with his right, and it zipped past the left post in one of the most promising chances early on.
A chance for Maryland would follow. Redshirt Freshman forward Joshua Bolma, With a lot of green grass in front of him on the right, ventured into the box and tried one with his off foot after some crafty maneuvers. It curled in the opposite direction of the goal, as the Terrapins looked to put points on the board, but came up empty.
The Tigers were also looking to get off on the right foot, as shown by their next shot. A beautiful run of long passes in transition led to forward Mamoru Kamisasunaki cutting the ball back to his forward partner Erik Centeno in space. Centeno cut it back onto his right, and unleashed a curler that went past goalkeeper Niklas Neumann. Fortunately for Maryland, it went above the goal, keeping the score level in the 28th minute at 0-0.
As the first half waned, it remained a battle of the defenses. With sloppy possession in the attacking third for both sides, and no one being able to find the final ball, the half ended in a stalemate.
“[Coach Sasho Cirovski] told us he expected more from us, even though the first half wasn’t that bad, it wasn’t that great,” Chris Rindov said.
The start of the second half saw a threatening Terrapin chance that almost changed the scoreline. Instead of shooting off a set piece like he normally does, Joshua Bolma slipped the ball to Caden Stafford who unloaded from just outside the box which ended up getting saved by the arms keeper Eric Cotton in the 50th minute, but the score wouldn’t stay level for long.
In the 53rd minute, Maryland broke through.
A long bout of Maryland possession ended up with the ball outside of the box being crossed in by Freshman defender William Kulvik. The looping cross seemed destined for a connection, and Rindov leaped up and thumped the ball directly past the extended left glove of Cotton, rippling the back of the net. The lights began to flash at Ludwig Field, as the Terps took a 1-0 lead.
“We’ve gotten better on set pieces and crosses lately and that was a wonderful cross by William,” Cirvoski said.
With one goal in their pocket, the Terps weren’t satisfied, and their response was a quick one. Stafford, having the ball at his feet at the top of the box with a man marking him, quickly shifted the ball on to his right and darted straight ahead. He proceeded to fire a shot right across the face of the goal and into the bottom left corner. The keeper Cotton looked in dismay as the Terps added on to their tally, giving them a 2-0 advantage in the 57th.
Even after a two goal lead had opened up for them, Maryland continued to press the issue in the attacking third. The ball rolled across the penalty area and found its way to Sophomore midfielder Ben Bender, who took a shot that was blocked by a sliding challenge. With the ball back at his feet again, Bender took a breath and tried it with his left again. The shot pierced into the back of the net, giving Maryland an even bigger 3-0 cushion, adding on to their second half offensive explosion.
Pacific tried to get a goal back late with some wonderful individual work by Erik Centeno leading to a shot that sent Niklas Neumann diving to his right in the 79th. Unfortunately for the Tigers, the shot shaded past the left post, keeping the score at 3-0 going into the final 10 minutes of play.
With nothing left to give for either team, the game settled out to a 3-0 final score as the Terps crushed Pacific in the second half.. They now head into a two game away stretch as they face off against the Michigan State Spartans on Friday October 22nd, and the Penn State Nittany Lions on October 26th.
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