The eleven Maryland players stood side by side perfectly packed like sardines in their own goal. Yet, the wall of Terps wasn’t a team picture or scripted shot, it was just one of the strangest scenes any soccer fan would ever encounter occurring in the closing minutes of #3 Maryland’s 3-1 victory over #14 Charlotte.
Following an illegal pass back from defender Wider Saint Cyr with 2:08 left, Charlotte (7-2-0) was awarded the kick a mere four yards from the goal. As the whistle blew, keeper Will Swaim charged the Charlotte shooter with the ferocity of a bull, taking the ball to the chest where if deflected out of harm’s way.
Soon the whistle blew and #3 Maryland improved to 9-0-1 (3-0-0 ACC) after stonewalling their third ranked opponent of the year in #14 Charlotte. But the 49ers from the Atlantic 10, a team that has already beaten two ACC teams on the road, just kept coming.
“They were very good; they’re a very talented team,” said Swaim, “And I think the one thing to their credit is that despite the score they never gave up and that’s a hard quality to find especially when you’re down 3-1, but they definitely gave us a run for their money.”
While the score indicates a two-goal win, it should have been 2-1, after Charlotte committed a costly own goal in the 30 min after Patrick Mullins sent a strong low cross from the left side of the field to goal. A 49er attempted to clear it despite being right at the mouth of the goal sending it upward into the net, setting up a 2-0 advantage for the Terps.
Maryland struck first at the 22:36 mark when senior Casey Townsend regrouped a rebounded shot and sent it past Klay Davis from 15 yards out. The score netted Townsend his 10th of the season, surpassing his total from last year (9) and two away from surpassing his career high(11), set his freshman year.
For all their pressing on the Maryland D, Charlotte finally caught the backline napping 30 seconds after John Stertzer corralled a Jereme Raley cross in the box and put the Terps up 3-0. 49er’s Donnie Smith took a pass from Owen Darby and shot up the left side of the field with limited pressure. Smith calmly crossed the shot across the goal mouth past an outstretched Swaim to make it 3-1.
Maryland outshot the 49ers 17-10 but it felt closer than that. Watching the boys in green warm up, so vocal, so energized one could tell they wouldn’t go down without a fight.
“I was pleased with our guys and their resolve, ” said Sasho Cirovski of his unbeaten team, “It was just one of those Tuesday game’s that was going to be a grind and we found away to win.”
With a win in hand the #3 Terps move to a Friday night date with #2 Creighton at Ludwig, the only team in D1 to have no goals scored on them this season. Did you get goose bumps reading that? I got them writing that.
Player of the Game: Without a doubt it goes to Will Swaim who played an outstanding game in the net. Charlotte just kept coming and Swaim was there to keep them at bay, tallying a game high five saves. The goal he allowed can be put on the backline more than anything and their mental lapse. He also had some outstanding pop up saves throughout the game.