Maryland drops OT match against Michigan in regular season finale

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By Shourjya Mookerjee

After enduring its first three-game skid since 2004, Maryland men’s soccer was looking to finally get back on the road to recovery against No. 19 Michigan Sunday afternoon at Ludwig Field. And for 103 minutes, it looked like it might just do it.

With a win, the No. 9 Terps (10-4-3, 5-1-2 Big Ten) could have locked up the No. 1 seed in the Big Ten tournament and won the regular season conference title outright. Instead, a 104th-minute double-overtime strike from junior forward Francis Atuahene swung the Big Ten title in the Wolverines’ favor.

The Terps hadn’t scored in 310 minutes entering Sunday’s game, and it looked like they were in for more trauma after the Wolverines took the lead in the seventh minute through junior defender Daniel Macuna’s set-piece goal; his bullet header snuck inside the far post as he got up for a lofted corner.

In the 36th minute, Maryland broke the drought. Junior midfielder D.J. Reeves settled a nice cross from junior forward Gordon Wild, took a deft touch in traffic, and finessed his effort past Michigan’s Freshman goalkeeper Henry Mashburn.

The game was chippy throughout, and definitely not devoid of chances, but the next true action came in the second overtime period, as Atuahene slid in on the right flank to redirect the rebound past Terps goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair, who had come off his line to collect the initial cross into the box.

“It’s a very cruel ending tonight,” said Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovksi. “Credit to Francis [Atuahene] for making a great play. That’s the difference in a game: one play.”

“It’s tough, and sometimes this happens to teams,” said Reeves. “But the one thing we’ll never do is give up.”

Cirovski fielded a familiar lineup against Michigan, with the exception of freshman left-back Ben Di Rosa lining up alongside the usual defense. The key misses from the teamsheet today were sophomore center-back Donovan Pines, who was out nursing a concussion, and senior UCLA transfer Chase Gasper, who is still out with a groin injury.

Maryland finished with only 10 shots (five shots on goal), compared to Michigan’s 16 (eight shots on goal). The Terps lead the Wolverines on corners, 8-6. With 31 fouls accumulated between the two teams, it can be safely said that this was a very physical game.

St. Clair came up with some big saves both in regulation and the overtime periods, as he finished with six saves on the night. Michigan’s Freshman goalkeeper Henry Mashburn also had an impressive display between the sticks, posting four saves.

With the regular season coming to a close, Maryland, having placed as the No. 4 seed, will host the No. 5 seed in the Big Ten quarterfinals next Sunday in College Park.

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