By: Eric Myers
With 28 minutes remaining, Maryland goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair played up from his line before Indiana crossed a ball into the six-yard box. The ball was headed towards the foot of Indiana’s Justin Rennicks, who would have had an open net if not for Ben Di Rosa’s sliding effort.
Di Rosa’s play was a pivotal part of Maryland’s defense, shutting out its opponent for the fourth consecutive game in the NCAA Tournament, which led Maryland to a 2-0 win over Indiana on Friday night to advance to the College Cup Final against Akron at Harder Stadium in Santa Barbara, California, on Sunday night.
“We’re just a band of brothers, we’re just such a cohesive unit,” defender Donovan Pines said about the team’s effort.
Di Rosa’s brother, Matt, also helped preserve the lead, scoring his first career goal in the 37th minute to give Maryland a first half lead and put the pressure on Indiana.
Matt Di Rosa’s goal came off of a set piece from a corner kick just after he had entered as a substitute. The ball bounced around in the box before it found the left foot of Matt Di Rosa, who put the ball in the net on his first touch of the game.
Six minutes after Ben Di Rosa’a first heroic play, Indiana switched the ball to the far side of the box where Spencer Glass was the lone occupant of that area. Ben Di Rosa quickly recovered to that side and slid to deflect the ball up-and-over the crossbar to defend away the potential one-on-one chance against St. Clair.
“This was our most complete performance of the year,” head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “We knew we would have to take balls off the line, block shots to try to contain their terrific players.”
Pines added Maryland’s second goal in the 80th minute on another set piece for the Terrapins. Eli Crognale sent a long free kick into the box that skipped all the way to Pines in the six-yard box. The defender got just enough of a touch to put it through the legs of Trey Muse, the Big Ten goalkeeper of the year.
“At halftime we talked with our team that we didn’t want to sit back, we wanted to make sure that we’re pushing,” Cirovski said. “We knew if there was a second goal, it was going to be a critical goal.”
Maryland’s win over Indiana, their first in three tries this season, gives the Terps a spot in Sunday’s College Cup Final against Akron to play for the national championship. Maryland also handed Indiana their first loss to a conference foe in their last 34 Big Ten games.
Akron dismantled another Big Ten school, Michigan State, 5-1, in the other semifinal game.
“When you get to a final, we’ll recover quickly,” Cirovski said after Friday night’s win. “We’ll have to enjoy this tonight, spend all day tomorrow to try to come up with a game plan to meet the Akron challenge on Sunday.”