13 seconds — that’s all it took for Georgetown to link four passes in a speedy counter attack, one that ended in a decisive goal. After a resolute defensive performance from Maryland soccer, it was Derek Dodson of Georgetown who wheeled to the corner flag to be mobbed by his teammates.
In an intense 90 minutes, the Hoyas were the more clinical side. And Dodson’s 65th minute strike sent them back across town happy, with Georgetown leaving Ludwig Field with a 1-0 win.
“Against Georgetown, you’ve got to play more like we played in the first half,” coach Sasho Cirovski said. “Actually, even a little bit better if you want a chance to win.”
After an even first 45 minutes, a blend of injury woes and fatigue saw Maryland fall behind. Georgetown piled on the pressure in the second half, and one crucial, sweeping counter attack proved to be the difference. Despite a spirited performance, the Terps lacked the fitness and requisite defensive quality on the night.
Maryland has faced a variety of play styles in the againg season. It struggled against the counter attacking systems deployed by Virginia, UCLA and Northwestern. Georgetown posed a different challenge, operating in a possession-based system that emphasizes patient build up.
To counter the opposition’s setup, coach Sasho Cirovski deployed his players deep on the pitch, tracking Georgetown’s constant movement. And in the early goings Maryland had the better looks, with a flurry of counter attacks.
As the game wore on, Georgetown began to show its quality. Jacob Montes’ constant movement in the No. 10 position made life difficult for the backline, and he was able to feed pacey wingers on the outside. But Nick Richardson held him in check, breaking up play and preventing any defense-splitting passes.
“The first half I was picking up a lot of loose balls,” Richardson said. “We were much more compact.”
Both keepers were relatively unchallenged in the first half, with Georgetown leading the shot count 5-2. However, the half was marked by a glaring dearth of quality looks on net — a predictable outcome based on the defensive quality shown by both teams.
“They didn’t get a lot of rhythm in the first half,” Cirovski said. “I don’t think our keeper had to make a save.”
In the 47th minute, Georgetown should hava taken the lead. After a blistering counter, attacking midfielder Jack Beer had a good look on the edge of the box, but Brett St. Martin averted his effort with a dramatic slide. Still, it was a chance Beer should have buried.
Maryland countered with a similarly lamentable effort of its own three minutes later. Striker Eric Matzelevich battled off two defenders and cut the ball back to Justin Harris. His driven shot flew into the air, sailing well high, and off the protective netting in front of the Maryland faithful.
Both opportunities were indicative of a game opening up, and for the first 10 minutes of the period, Georgetown looked the more likely side to take advantage. It kept Terrapin goalkeeper Niklas Neumann busy, but the Germany native was largely impervious.
In the 61st minute, the visitors looked to have broken the deadlock. The Hoyas worked the ball round to an open Will Sands, who fired a shot towards the back post. Yet with a well-timed flick of his right boot, Ben Di Rosa prevented the ball from crossing the line — a play that video replay deemed legitimate.
Despite Di Rosa’s clearance, a goal was clearly coming. And Georgetown eventually converted its sustained pressure into delight. In the 65th minute, the Hoyas engineered a flowing counter attack from deep in its own half. Four sweeping passes later, Dedmon was on hand to smash the ball into the net with Neumann reeling.
“Hats off to them, that was a good goal,” Richardson said. “But we gotta do better.”
With a 1-0 lead, Georgetown continued to push forward. Montes dictated play with a series of ruthless counter attacks, giving his teammates numerous shots on goal. One shot cannoned off the post. Another two whistled wide. And somehow Georgetown couldn’t double the advantage.
“We got a little spread apart in the second half,” Di Rosa said. “Our communication wasn’t as good and our energy wasn’t as good.”
Neither could Maryland find an equalizer. Some cerebral game management from the visitors coupled with an inability to execute from the home side saw the Terps drop their second of the year at home.
“Georgetown’s a good team,” Cirovski said. “Tonight, they deserved the victory.”