By: Shourjya Mookerjee
The Maryland men’s soccer team won its 2017 home opener at Ludwig Field on Monday, beating the Hofstra Pride by a scoreline of 2-0.
An own goal from Hofstra gave the No. 6 Terps (2-0) a 1-0 lead within the first four minutes of the game. A wild back-pass from Hofstra’s Sean Nealis looped into the visitors’ goal and suck under the crossbar, getting past junior goalkeeper Alex Ashton.
Maryland entered halftime with five shots and four corners, while Hofstra had none of either. The Terps, however, were denied twice by Ashton.
Junior forward Gordon Wild, the Terps’ leading-scorer from 2016, doubled Maryland’s advantage in the 57th minute with a free-kick from the right edge of the box, which the German native buried into the top-left corner.
Attacking midfielder Amar Sejdic, a key man in the Terps’ 2016 offense, had a chance to extend Maryland’s lead to 3-0 with 22 minutes left to play, but his swerving free-kick was pushed over the bar by Ashton.
The Terps missed another golden opportunity to score a third goal in the final minutes, when junior Sebastian Elney’s chance skied over the left goalpost.
Two goals were enough for the Terps, however, who blanked the Pride in the victory.
“The most important thing today was getting the shutout,” Wild said. “With our attacking power, we’re always able to score, so that was the gameplan and it turned out well for us.”
Monday’s lineup featured familiar names in midfield and attack, but Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski fielded a new-look defense. The defense lost last year’s starting goalkeeper Cody Niedermeier and starting defenders Alex Crognale, Suli Dainkeh and Chris Odoi-Atsem to graduation.
Cirovski started sophomore goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair, sophomore Johannes Bergman, a German U-18 and U-20 international, and junior defender Chase Gasper, a transfer from UCLA.
The two senior starters in the defense were sophomore Donovan Pines, a strong, ball-playing center-back, and senior George Campbell, last year’s midfield super-sub who pulled Maryland out of many tough situations.
“Something that we struggled with last year was having that grind and defensive bite,” Campbell said. “I think the two days of training we had [between the season opener and Monday’s game], we put a lot of emphasis on getting tougher defensively, and I think this is a good reflection of that growth.”
The Terps finished with 10 shots, and six corners. St. Clair recorded zero saves off Hofstra’s two shots, both of which were not on goal.
With the victory over Hofstra, Maryland stay undefeated in the 2017 regular season. The Terrapins continue their homestand against No. 21 UCLA at 7 p.m. on Friday night at Ludwig Field.
Photo courtesy of UMTerps.com