By Jack Parry
The ball rolled toward the goal from the penalty spot. The result of this kick would either keep the Terps alive or complete an upset win for the Northwestern Wildcats. It seemed like the whole world stopped breathing as the ball slowly rolled forward on the grass. Then all of a sudden the ball stopped, and came off the right post.
A slow game for both teams couldn’t be decided in relegation or extra time. Although brilliant performances from both goalkeepers continued through the penalty kicks, the Wildcats won 3-2 with the final blow being a missed penalty by Brayan Padillad to knock the Terps out of the Big Ten Tournament.
Maryland came into the tournament as the second seed eager for a win to cement their status as the 10th ranked team in the country against the seventh-seeded Northwestern Wildcats.
Another Sunday at Ludwig started off with a surprise as Ryan Blumberg started his second game for the team on the backline. The senior defender scored his first goal in his first start against Indiana last Sunday, and he looked to continue his recent form against one of the only other teams he’s played against in his Maryland career.
The game almost started with another one of these miraculous moments as Blumberg had a sniff of goal early. A Bender free kick got the ball to his feet in the tenth, but he couldn’t sort out his feet resulting in a shot that sailed into the netting in front of the student section.
The game started off slow in the first 15, however the Wildcats had a scare in the 19th minute that had some consequences. Goalkeeper Miha Miskovic ran out of the box to try and prevent sophomore forward Jacen Russell-Rowe for a chance and ended up hitting the ball with his hand outside of the box while tackling his own defender. Miskovic got a yellow card and Maryland got a free kick which he promptly saved right after.
Despite all of the offensive struggles throughout the first period, the Wildcats had an impressive chance toward the end of the half. With the ball falling to him off of an attacking spell, Collin Mcamy took a shot with his right on the left side of the box. The ball rose and dip, but it couldn’t break junior keeper Niklas Neumann’s concentration as he stuck out a palm and saved the ball out of play for a corner. Neumann’s heroics in the 35th minute kept the game scoreless, 0-0.
5 minutes before half, Northwestern came close to striking again, giving the Terps an upset scare. A long throw-in in the attacking third ended up with a header and then a second header by Joseph Arena that looked destined for goal. Neumann could only watch as the ball sailed just to the right of the post for a goal kick, as the score remained 0-0 at the end of the first period.
The Terps came out of halftime looking to replicate one of their classic second half offensive performances that they have made a staple this season.
However, this wouldn’t be the case.
Another corner from the Terps resulted in a flick by freshman forward Caden Stafford that was thought to possibly be over the line. A review from the head referee saw that the ball didn’t cross the line as he waved off the possible goal.
As the second period inched forward, it seemed like Northwestern got more of a kick out of half time as the chances kept coming. Collin Mcamy got another look at the goal from distance and tried his luck again. Neumann came up with another brilliant save in the 65th, as he continued his brilliant performance keeping the home side level at 0-0.
Niklas Neumann came up with some more jaw-dropping defense in the 74th. A fast break from the Wildcats set Paul Son up with a floating shot towards the net that Neumann wasn’t sure how to judge. He managed to get a glove to it and got the ball out of play before the offense could pounce, keeping his clean sheet alive in the process.
Even though they’d been struggling on offense the whole half, the Terps finally got a great opportunity. A handball from a cross into the box was met by the outstretched hand of Deng Deng Kur, resulting in a penalty. With normal penalty taker Ben Bender out of the game, Jacen Russell-Rowe stepped up to the spot. His run up looked clean but the striker messed up his placement and Miha Miskovic pounced on the shot and got a save to his right.
As the half came to a close, the chance kept coming for the Terps, but the keeper Miskovic came to the rescue every time. A rebound shot by Russell-Rowe was saved by Miskovic as the forward continued his struggles. David Kovacic had a couple of chances in the 85th that were also gobbled up by Miskovic, as both goalies continued their miraculous displays.
With the game winding down, freshman forward Richie Nichols almost thumped the Terps into the lead from outside. The ball fell to him with no one closing him down and the freshman wanted to try his luck. He cracked it from way outside the box and thumped the crossbar in the 87th as Miskovic could only look on.
A wild five minutes to end regulation filled with some promising Terrapin chance was withstood by a resilient Northwestern side. As a result the game went into extra time, with the otherwise low energy game going into extra periods with much needed momentum from the Terps.
The Wildcats almost took the win home early, with a shot from Justin Weiss going just wide of the left post in the 93rd minute. Another chance came off of a free kick in the 98th minute from Collin Mcamy. Trickery from the spot way outside from Northwestern ended up with a clean chance from way out. The shot destined for the bottom right corner was greeted by Neumann’s strong left hand, with both keepers continuing to keep the double zeroes on the scoreboard going into the second overtime period.
The second overtime period showed a lot of promise, but the only shots that were taken by either side were comfortably saved by either Keeper until Gielen had a great look at goal late. The shot went sailing over and the first postseason game for the Terps ended up going scoreless and being decided by penalties.
Stepping up to the spot first was Justin Weiss of the Wildcats. His slow walk up tried to scare Neumann, but the forward fired it right into his hands as the keeper guessed correctly. On the other side, Justin Gielen looked to score but Miskovic dove to his left and cleaned the ball off the line.
At equal standing the Wildcats stepped up to take the lead but Neumann was there again to keep the score level. Bender stepped up next for the Terps and finished smoothly with his left into the corner to give his side an edge.
Both sides stepped up and made their next kicks coming from the boots of Spencer Farina, then Caden Stafford. Richie Bennett gave Northwestern the tie with a make followed by Brett St. Martin getting his shot saved by Miskovic.
Rom Brown hit a wonderful ball to the left to provide the Wildcats with an advantage on the last penalty kick. With everything coming down to the boot of Brayan Padilla, he chipped a shot to the right which delicately dinked off the post, as their run in the tournament finished quickly.
This loss puts the team in a bit of a quagmire heading into selection Monday as this loss comes against an unranked Northwestern side. With their status up in the air, one can only question what the Terps’ seeding will be, and when they will play next.