The Hollywood movie ending was all set in place. Patrick Mullins got a touch on the ball and sent it past the keeper as the clock hit zero in double overtime. The crowd at Ludwig Field erupted as the Terps picked up the win on a chilly Thursday night on Senior Night.
But this wasn’t a movie.
The referees signaled that the time had expired before the Mullins game winner was scored and the #4 Terps settled for a 1-1 tie with Wake Forest.
Sasho Cirvoski and the coaching staff rushed the field as the goal was waived off, in disagreement with the call.
Yet, the exciting finish covered up briefly Maryland’s (13-2-3, 4-2-2 ACC) scoring woes. For most of the year the Terps were on a tear, pummeling opponents with goals. Tonight’s game summed up the struggles as Maryland outshot the Deacons (8-6-4, 4-3-1 ACC) 35-6, with 14 shots on goal.
“I was pleased with the overall performance…but we still almost let it slip away,” said Cirovski. “Sometimes when you don’t put the ball in the back of the net you expose yourself, but overall it was a great performance.”
It looked like the troubles were over when the home team scored in the 31st minute off a beautiful Taylor Kemp send from the left side of the field. The ball met a leaping John Stertzer, who headed on the score to the far post from ten yards out. That netted the midfielder’s 14th goal of the year.
And while it was Maryland who dominated play in the first half, it was the Deacons who were more efficient in the second half when Sean Okoli scored the equalizer in the 50th minute from 30 yards out on a upper 90 score that a diving Will Swaim had no chance to save. Okoli’s score was one of two shots Wake would take in the half.
The tie put a damper on last regular-season game, a night where seniors Casey Townsend, Will Swaim, Alex Lee, Matt Oduaran, and Kaoru Forbess were honored prior to the game. The group of five enjoyed 46 wins at Ludwig Field, but couldn’t earn one tonight.
“We played really well…we just got to score, you can’t win if you don’t score,” said Townsend, who finished with ten shots on the night. “Tonight’s just really disappointing; I really don’t know what to say.”
However, with the tie, the Terps were still able to lock up the #2 seed in the ACC Tournament that kicks off Tuesday. But coupled with tonight’s result, a tie with UNC and the 2-1 loss to Clemson, they will limp into the post season.
The lack of offense is perplexing. First Mullins regressed, slowly followed by Townsend. Stertzer has actually sky rocketed and become the face of the attack. Wake does deserve some credit thought, keeper Michael Lisch played and outstanding game the net, making clutch save after save, finishing with 13.
For the majority of the season, the Terrapins relied on a heavy onslaught of shots, which grinded opponents down. Something is just not clicking, evident by the season high 35 shots with only one goal to “show for it.
“Sometimes ties like the one at Carolina feels like a win,” said Cirovski. “And sometimes ties like tonight feel like a loss.”
Cirovski mentioned several times that problems were “fixable”. With the ACC Championships and NCAA’s on the horizon, one thing is for certain: they only get one shot.
Player of the Game: It feels redundant to keep giving it to John Stertzer, but the junior is carrying the attack or what is left of it. He has taken over the role as the go-to-scorer as Townsend and Mullins try to break out of their slumps. He scored the only goal and finished with three shots.