Late heroics from St. Martin lead Maryland men’s soccer to OT victory

In the 109th minute, a draw with No. 9 St. John’s seemed imminent after a stagnant regulation and first overtime period. 

The No. 25 Maryland men’s soccer team had one last chance to steal the win, getting a corner kick on the right side. Johannes Bergmann launched the ball inside the box, and after a scuffle, St. John’s goalkeeper Luka Garvan fell to the ground. The ball bounced outside the box to Matt DiRosa, who returned it right to Brett St. Martin in front of the net. 

St. Martin managed to get a foot on the ball, and misdirected it into the goal for a sudden death victory and his first-career goal at Ludwig Field, sprinting to the corner flag to celebrate with his teammates.

“It was surreal,” St. Martin said. “I couldn’t even describe how it is, but my teammates’ support is just unreal.”

With St. Martin’s goal, the Terps recovered from a frustrating loss to Northwestern on Friday night and gained some confidence re-entering conference play. 

“There were definitely some feelings that were coming through from the last game, but it wasn’t fatigue,” Gielen said. “It was definitely frustration and wanting to get back onto the field and show that we are a nationally competitive team.

Maryland generated the first shot of the game in the third minute, taking advantage of an early corner kick. The corner from Luke Brown bounced inside the box before falling into Ben DiRosa’s feet at the top of the box, but the defender’s shot was deflected and easily saved by goalie Jan Hoffelner. 

After Matt DiRosa took a tumble while retreating on defense, Matt Forster got St. John’s first shot on goal in the 11th minute from inside the box, but it was a slow-roller for goalie Niklas Neumann. 

Plagued by injuries, Maryland shifted to a 3-5-2 formation for the first time this season. The Terps were lacking key playmakers in midfield — William James Herve, captain Eli Crognale and David Kovacic — forcing Malcolm Johnston to slide into a supporting midfield role. 

“We went with two strikers and three at the back,” head coach Sasho Cirovski said, “partly to combat some of their strengths but partly to take advantage of the remaining players for selection. We’re a little thin right now if you haven’t noticed.” 

With a mostly-new central unit, Maryland’s possession and its quality shots were limited in the first half. Even if the Terps did start to push into the attacking third, it wasn’t long before the Red Storm would recover. 

“That was our first game playing in that new formation,” forward Justin Gielen said. “The first half we were kind of getting used to it, and in the second half we really found our stride.”

The Terps didn’t spend much time in their defensive end for most of the first half, but with less than 15 minutes to go, the Red Storm started to put on the pressure. After having only one shot in the first 25 minutes, St. John’s had back-to-back corner opportunities, unable to deliver on both. But Neumann was forced off his line in the 33rd minute, with a shot to the top right of the net from Niko Petridis, the Red Storm’s first real chance of the half. 

Facing a new goalkeeper — the 6-foot-6 redshirt freshman Luka Gavran — the Terps had a good look on goal with a through ball to Matzelevich, but the junior forward took the shot with the outside of his right foot, and the ball went wide left of the net. 

The Red Storm also had a good look with 32 minutes left in the game, after Tani Oluwaseyi took a shot from inside the box that went right of the goal and out of bounds. The next real chance for St. John’s came in the 66th minute, with a bomb from Brandon Knapp from outside the box after a corner kick. 

St. John’s, who had scored eight goals in its past two games, then continued the assault on offense with a pair of close calls. First, a headed shot saved from Duarte forced Neumann into a diving save to the near post, and then a missed tap-in from Forster in front of the net kept the game locked at 0-0 with under 20 left.

With under five minutes remaining, the Terps and Red Storm were tied with four shots apiece, but St. John’s succeeded in taking advantage of their few chances. With a total of six shots in the game, four of them were on goal, in contrast with Maryland’s single chance on goal at the end of regulation. 

In the fifth minute of overtime, Maryland had a chance to end what had been stagnant match for both teams. 

On a free kick right outside the left corner of the box, Padilla struck a ball to the far post, and Chris Rindov managed to get a head on it. But the freshman walk-on’s header went just wide right of the goalpost, and the Terps were unable to get another chance on goal before the first overtime was complete.

Bergmann’s corner in the second overtime was Maryland’s “best service of the night,” according to Cirovski, and the Terps capitalized on it, ending the match with St. Martin’s tap-in.

“I challenged our team to respond after Friday’s disappointing result, and they did.” Cirovski said. “They don’t all have to be beautiful goals, and this is what I call an effort goal, a character goal.”