By Jack Parry
It was a moment that couldn’t have been written better.
From signing with Maryland in 2016, to playing professional soccer in England in 2018, to coming back to Maryland in 2019 and being sidelined by injuries for years, Ryan Blumberg found himself making his first career start for the Terps Sunday afternoon. The man who teammates have been shouting out to get more playing time finally could make his mark after originally committing in 2016.
So when a corner kick came sailing into the box with the game tied up, Blumberg summoned the courage to put his name in the record books of this historic program.
It was a back and forth first half, with many chances going back and forth. However, in a theme that seems to be recurring for them this season, Maryland men’s soccer played a brilliant second half. This led to them putting two goals past the Hoosiers and getting the 2-0 victory.
Spotty sunlight illuminated Ludwig field on a bittersweet Senior Day for the Terps. While Head Coach Sacho Cirovski taking time to start seniors such as Ryan Blumberg on the backline, they are facing up against a 22nd ranked Indiana side which is looking to pounce after the Terp’s loss to Penn State on Tuesday.
The home side began the game with some brilliant link up play as the passes were connecting, but they just couldn’t seem to crack the Hoosier backline. With the half inching forward, Indiana almost broke the game open with a chance.
In the 15th minute, Forward Samuel Sarver was running with the ball into the box, having just the goalie to beat. Responding to the situation, keeper Niklas Neumann came off his line and made a brilliant save with his body, thwarting the Indiana attack.
With the half moving forward more chances kept coming for the Terrapins, and they looked ready to pounce. A floating ball from Caden Stafford in the 35th was controlled beautifully by Ben Bender in the box who volleyed it with his right towards the bottom left corner. A diving save was made by Hoosier keeper Roman Celentano, and a follow up by Hunter George was blocked by Daniel Munie.
With a total of 3 shots on goal for the whole half, there weren’t a lot of chances that had a finishing touch. Towards the end of the half though, Indiana looked dangerous in the box. A set cross by the Hoosiers seeped toward the middle, but the toe poke was saved by Neumann.
Then right at the end of the half, the Hoosiers weren’t able to break the Terrapin shell yet again with a very promising chance. A questionable non offsides call led to Herbert Endeley running full steam ahead the ball with Chris Rindov side by side. Endeley ran past the keeper Neumann, set himself and had a shot.
Then with some Senior Day heroics, Senior defender Chris Rindov made a diving save with his feet to keep the shot out of the goal. As once again the Terp backline showed some resilience as the half came to a close.
With the second half starting, coach Cirovski seemed to pep up his guys as Maryland was on the attack early, and as a result were awarded with a goal from the unlikeliest of heroes. A blocked cross from Joshua Bolma led to a Ben Bender corner from the right. The set piece was whipped in and rising above all to put his head on it was Senior defender Ryan Blumberg.
The ball sailed to the right of the keeper Celentano and bounced in at the 49th. The defender made his first career start today, and has only played nine minutes in his whole career with the team. But when his number was called, he rose to the occasion and put his team up 1-0 on the Hoosiers.
Only four minutes later an outstretched hand in the box led to a Maryland penalty with a chance to give them a 2-0 advantage early in the half. With Ben Bender on the spot, looking to put another one on his stat sheet. The kick went to the right and the keeper Celentano made a beautiful save with his feet to keep the Terps at bay.
But they could only be held back for so long. The blistering attack led to a long ball for Sophomore forward Jacen Russell Rowe in the box. Russell-Rowe proceeded to lightly pass the ball to the center of the box, where goal machine Ben Bender reached for it and tucked the ball into the left corner to give Maryland another goal just seven minutes after their first, and to give him fifth goal in five straight games.
With the half moving forward, the Terrapins looked like a completely different team in this half. They dominated on both sides of the ball, keeping possession and making their chances count in the attacking half while also thwarting every chance of Indiana’s in their defensive third.
As the game was coming to a close, Maryland also put a third past Indiana. Junior forward Hunter George got the ball on the left side of the goalie in the 86th minute. He set himself and fired a rocket to the left of the keeper. Hoosier goalkeeper Roman Celentano came up with yet another brilliant save to keep the score at 2-0, as both goalkeepers had brilliant days at the office.
With the Ludwig Field sun coming out for the closing, Maryland capped off their performance with a dominant closing ten minutes to give them the 2-0 win at home. As the season comes to a close, the Big Ten tournament rears its head with playoffs around the corner.