The game was still scoreless in the 76th minute, and Maryland needed a hero to avoid losing to Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals for the second straight year.
Enter Colin Griffith, who just got a touch on a Malcolm Johnston pass into the box to give Maryland a 1-0 victory over the Wildcats.
Griffith didn’t start the match, but head coach Sasho Cirovski elected to put him in the starting lineup for the second half.
“I came in to make sure to bring the energy and cause some problems, ” Griffith said.
“I think Colin made a huge difference today. He’s learning to play with greater intensity. Almost every time he touched the ball, something good happened,” Cirovski said.
Maryland outshot Northwestern 13 to five in the contest.
They also had more corners, with six compared to the Wildcats’ four.
The game was very physical, with 33 fouls between the two teams.
Northwestern mostly controlled the game early on and looked like the more threatening team offensively.
In the ninth minute, a dangerous low shot by Jason Gajadhar forced a save from Maryland keeper Niklas Neumann to keep the game scoreless.
Gajadhar was very aggressive in the half, accumulating a number of fouls.
The Wildcats threatened again in the 12th minute when a curling effort from Bardia Kimiavi that seemed destined for the top right corner forced another great save by Neumann.
In the 24th minute, forward Hunter George lifted a potentially dangerous, albeit slightly high, cross into the box that Stefan Copetti got his head on but sent over the net.
This play gave Maryland life offensively, and they continued that energy for the rest of the half.
The Terps had the limeshare of possessions for the rest of the first half.
In the 31st minute, some skillful dribbling by Joshua Bolma after a beautiful touch to bring the ball down led to a shot that required a save by the Northwestern keeper.
Moments later, Gajadhar fouled in the box, and Maryland was awarded a penalty.
Johnston, who had been perfect from the spot so far this season on four tries, stepped up to the line and fired a thundering shot that hit the crossbar and bounced out.
The game went to the half scoreless.
The Wildcats had more shots in the first half, with five to Maryland’s three.
However, the Terps had more shots on target, with three to Northwestern’s one.
The second half started quieter than the first, with only a few chances between the sides.
Everything changed in the 62nd minute when officials went to video review, leaving all clueless to what they were looking at.
Officials awarded a very questionable penalty to Maryland for a slight pull by Brandon Clagette on a Terp at the very edge of the box, completely away from the ball.
Bolma took the penalty this time, but he sent the ball on the ground right at Garner, making it a rather easy save.
Maryland then launched a barrage of attacks at the Wildcats’ net.
A tense moment occurred in the 74th minute when a Northwestern defender had to clear a Justin Harris shot off the line to keep the game scoreless.
Maryland completely dominated the run of play for much of the second half and came frustratingly close to scoring on a number of occasions but just couldn’t put the ball in the net.
That all changed in the 76th minute when the Northwestern defense failed to deal with a Johnston ball into the box, and Griffith got a touch on it to give UMD a 1-0 lead.
“I think it’s been our character all year. No, quit,” defender Nick Richardson said.
Maryland saw out the rest of the game and defeated the Wildcats 1-0.
“We played well enough to win this game by several goals, but I have to credit Northwestern because they came here and competed like warriors. Overall, we knew this was going to be a tough game, and it was, but we’ve got to move on and play Indiana on Wednesday,” Cirovski said.
Maryland advances to the Big Ten Tournament semifinals and will face Indiana.
“We know we’re going to come out strong, especially since we clinched the regular season Big Ten title at their place last week. I think energy is going to be the most important thing. The energy within our team has to be incredible from the bench to the starting 11,” Richardson said.