Look at it any way you want, but in the end it was a victory for the #3 Terps. Maryland survived Chapel Hill and #2 UNC with a 1-1 tie of the national contenders and ACC stalwarts Friday night.
John Stertzer continued on his hot streak, striking first for Maryland (13-1-2) (4-1-1 ACC) in the 51st minute, breaking the scoreless first half. A Karou Forbess serve was sent into the box and remained jostled. Stertzer entered the scene and buried his shot to the right past UNC keeper Scott Goodwin. It was Stertzer’s 12th goal of the season.
Maryland’s lead was short lived when 10 minutes later North Carolina (11-2-2) (3-1-2 ACC) scored off a bizarre series of events. UNC junior forward Ben Speas launched a shot at the Maryland goal, which was blocked by defender London Woodberry. A follow-up shot launched by Billy Schuler was also stopped; however, the shot was called to have been stopped by the hand of Woodberry. The junior from Texas was issued a straight red that set up a penalty kick that was converted by Enzo Martinez.
For the second straight game, Maryland would be playing the remainder a man down after losing Sunny Jane against Duke last Friday night. Yet, against the Blue Devils the Terps held a lead when Jane was sent off the field and played in front of a record home crowd. Now they were down a defensive starter, on the road to the #2 team in the land with one of the most potent offenses. Things looked bleak.
But the Maryland D stepped up big, shutting down the Tar Heels for the remaining 49 minutes. Sure, UNC outshot the Terps 23-10, but the only thing that mattered was that no goal was given up, preserving the Terps’ first place ranking in the ACC.
So despite what the score says or the team’s record notes, Maryland left with a victory. The result may not have been the same had the Terps not received a week’s rest leading up the match, their longest break of the season. Sasho said his over scheduling would pay off, I think we can look to this game as one of those moments.
Next Maryland looks to pad its lead in the ACC with a road game against Clemson next Friday at 6 pm.
Player of the Game: Stertzer was the man with the goal, but I’m giving this award to the entire Maryland defense. To step up that big on the road after losing a key defensive player was huge. They strapped down and grinded out a tie with a potential ACC regular season championship on the line.