There was no hat trick, no crunch-time penalty kick. No need for extra time, a last minute header or collapses of any kind. In fact there was barely any drama at all.
No, there was only the reassertion of the Terps as the #1 team in the country in their 3-1 win over ACC rival NC State Friday evening. Maryland got their offensive firepower from two freshmen and gave relief to Terp Nation after a strong defensive effort after their ugly showing against UMBC.
“I knew after the emotional game on Tuesday night that this was going to be a challenge,” said Sasho Cirvoski after the victory on a chilly night, “And I think it took us a little while to get into our rhythm today…the first 30 minutes of the second half were outstanding, we played some good soccer.”
And it was the new kid that got it started.
Mikias Eticha made sure the score would not be 0-0 at halftime, recording his first career goal as a Terp with 16.8 second on the clock. After a few seconds of chaotic play in the NC State box (2-2-2) (0-1-0 ACC), Eticha, who was added to the team only a few weeks ago after being cleared by the NCAA, slide into the box, pounding the ball from three yards out past a helpless Fabian Otte.
Maryland (7-0-0) (2-0 ACC) picked up where it left off early in the second half. Redshirt freshman Jereme Raley scored his second career goal in the 48th minute after a pretty Sunny Jane cross made its way to Casey Townsend for a blocked header. Raley pounced on the blocked shot for the rebound goal.
Once again the Terrapin attack was able to crack another outstanding defense. Coming into their first ACC game, the Wolfpack were leading the ACC in goals against with two. NC State played extremely well throughout the first half, frustrating Casey Townsend and Patrick Mullins who lead the Terps with 13 goals combined.
But slowly the attack became too much and Eticha lit the fuse.
The only mark on the Terps pristine win was the garbage time goal that they allowed with 40 seconds left in the game. Will Swaim was left one on one with #12 Monbo Bokar who easily scored to the left side of the goal from 11 yards out.
“We just got caught being a lackadaisical with the ball,” said defender London Woodberry on the goal, “Will had a great game, you can’t blame it on him and I don’t think you can blame it on any of the backs, or anybody in general it was just a lack of concentration in the last part of the game. We just have to get sharper going into next week’s game.”
While it was a disappointing end to a great game by the defense, it’s reassuring to see the backline respond so well to easily their worse game of the year.
Tonight #1 Maryland got back on track to their national title dreams. Next up is a date with Seton Hall on Sept. 20 at 7 p.m.
Player of the Game: I’m giving it to the new kid Mikias Eticha for his exciting goal in the first half. It really jump started the team, which could not crack the NC State D. From then on the Terps would play outstanding in the second half with two more scores.