By: Brittney Bridges
The Maryland Terrapins (5-5-3, 2-3-0 Big Ten) hosted the Denver Pioneers (10-2-2, 2-0-1 Summit) on a chilly Tuesday night at Ludwig Field in College Park. The Terrapins pulled out the 1-0 win and shutout the No. 7 ranked team in the nation. Despite the surprisingly underwhelming turnout, the Terrapins seemed to have found their stride.
Both teams were coming off of disappointing losses: Maryland suffered a 2-1 last minute loss to the Indiana Hoosiers this past Friday, while Denver took their first loss of the season after getting blanked by No. 6-ranked Virgina by a score of 3-0. Safe to say, both teams came into the matchup looking to redeem themselves.
The Terrapins did just that. Probably for the first time this season, Maryland looked sound and in-sync. And they would have to remain that way throughout the whole match against the fiery Denver team.
Denver’s loss against Virginia was their first loss in their last 19 regular season games. They’ve been successful for the latter half of the season despite being without starting goalkeeper Nick Gardner, who’s been out for the previous three games.
The main focus for Maryland was defending the Pioneers senior forward Andre Shinyashiki as the Sao Paulo, Brazil native leads the nation in goals scored with 21 for the season. No other Denver player has scored more than two goals. But on Tuesday night, the Maryland defense did their job and then some.
“He was the main guy,” defender Chase Gasper said when asked about Shinyashiki. “We’ve had incredible defense all season, so going into it we knew we were in good hands but we knew we still needed to focus on him,”
The first half was relatively even on all fronts except when Maryland scored five minutes into the game. Gasper sent a long cross from left field towards the middle of the box and Paul Bin did the rest.
Bin discreetly drifted behind the Pioneer defense before running back in the middle of the defenders and leaped high in the air to head the ball right past Denver’s backup goalkeeper Will Palmquist for his third goal of the season. Both the fans and the players knew how crucial it was for Maryland to take the lead early in the match.
“I kind of blacked out.” Paul Bin said while laughing when asked about how the only goal of the game transpired. “Chase whipped in a great ball and somehow I got my head on it.”
Though Maryland failed to score the remaining 85 minutes, they looked different than they have in prior games. Not to mention, they were healthy. The experienced senior, Gasper, who recently returned, not only helped defensively but with leadership as well.
“It’s huge to have Chase back, he’s a warrior.” Coach Cirovski said about Gasper, who was out four weeks prior to the Indiana game due to an injury. “He makes our team tougher.”
In the second half, the Pioneers continued to struggle and just couldn’t connect on their chances. Their main player, Shinyashiki, was contained by the solid defense of Donovan Pines and Johannes Bergmann. He only took two shots, both of which didn’t challenge Dayne St. Clair, who finished with five saves and had a much easier night than he’s had in prior games.
The Terps held the Denver offense, who averages almost 14 shots per game, to just seven shots with only five being on goal. The frustration showed for the Pioneers as they racked up foul calls, finishing with 13 fouls in comparison to the eight called on Maryland.
“Tonight was the healthiest group of players I’ve had all year,” Coach Cirovski said. “This is a massive win against a terrific team and now it’s just onto the next one,”
Maryland only gets a three day break, furthering their strenuous schedule in the regular season. They host the last-ranked Big Ten team, when they take on Ohio State at 7:00 p.m on Friday.