In the 48th minute, Terps were awarded a corner kick and redshirt senior Mike Heitzmann sent the ball into the Northwestern box. No Wildcat controlled the bouncing ball as it reached freshman midfielder Ben Bender, who controlled the ball and fired a shot into the back of the net giving Maryland a 1-0 lead. That marked the first goal of his career.
“It was awesome to see Ben Bender get his first goal, he’s been close so many times, just very happy for him,” head coach Sasho Cirovski said.
The Terps tacked another goal to secure a 2-1 victory over Northwestern on Saturday in Evanston, Illinois.
“I’m very delighted with the victory and the performance of our team today,” Cirovski said.
The Terps now are 4-3-0 and above .500 for the first time of the season, while Northwestern drops to 2-6-1 this season.
Both sides came out of the gate slowly, struggling to generate opportunities. However, Maryland controlled possession but couldn’t break through.
The best opportunity for the Terps occurred in the 15th minute. Heitzmann sent the ball towards the Northwestern end, which redshirt sophomore midfielder/defender Nick Richardson was about to reach. Richardson crossed the ball into the box, as it landed near redshirt senior forward Paul Bin who sailed the shot over the net.
Maryland was given another great chance three minutes later. A loose ball in the Northwestern box was controlled by Bin, who’s shot once again flew over the goal.
Northwestern’s best chance came in the 38th minute. A brilliant pass into the Terps’ box led to a dangerous ball close to the net. The ball crossed the goal line, however, it was ruled offsides waving off the goal.
For the rest of the first half, Terps controlled possession but were unable to break through. As the halftime horn sounded, it was a 0-0 tie, with Maryland having five shots to Northwestern’s 1.
“At halftime, we talked about being more direct, trying to get behind them a little bit, having a little more malice in our attack,” Cirovski said. “And we did that.”
Maryland has started the second half smoking hot in many of the matches this season and that trend continued on Saturday. Heitzmann sent the ball off a corner into the Wildcat box, which Bender put in the back of the net on the aforementioned goal.
“We’ve seen that from Ben. That’s what we expect from Ben,” Cirovski said. “And I think it’s the start of a good run for him.”
Five minutes later, Maryland added another goal. Bin controlled the ball near the penalty area and sent the ball towards sophomore Malcolm Johnston. Johnston controlled the ball and blasted the ball into the net’s left side for his first goal of the season, which increased the Terps lead to 2-0.
“He hit that perfectly,” Cirovski said.
The Terps continued to attack looking to pad on their lead. Northwestern goalkeeper Miha Miskovic made back-to-back brilliant saves keeping the Wildcats in the match.
Northwestern refused to let the 2-0 deficit bother them. Two quality chances to get on the board were stopped by freshman goalkeeper Jamie Lowell.
In the 82nd minute, the Wildcats got on the board off a corner. Rom Brown was wide open and sent a header into the back of the net, setting up a stressful ending for Maryland.
“We made it interesting at the end again, I give Northwestern credit, to stay in the game and fight to get the goal,” Cirovski said.
With a couple of minutes left in the match, the Wildcats came close to tying the game, but Ritchie Bennett’s volley went wide of the net.
“Overall, it’s a great three points,” Cirovski said.
Maryland plays its next match at Ludwig field on March 31st, airing on the Big Ten Network at five against Penn State.