The Maryland Terrapins (4-3-2, 2-1 Big Ten) took on the No. 13 ranked Michigan State Spartans (8-1-2, 2-1 Big Ten) on a cool night in College Park, Maryland. The Terrapins suffered their fourth loss of the season, falling to the Spartans 2-0.
The two teams have history, with their previous meeting last season ending in a scoreless draw. The Friday night game served as a rematch of the 1968 National Championship game where Maryland and Michigan State played to a 2-2 tie and split the title as co-champions. Sixteen out of the eighteen players of that 1968 team were honored on the field before the game began.
“I’m just delighted that they were able to be here and be recognized on a beautiful night,” said Coach Sasho Cirovski about the 1968 team. Despite the outcome, he talked about how meaningful it was to have former players attend.
“I’m just disappointed that we couldn’t put a smile on their face. It was a meaningful game for them because they played against Michigan State,” Coach Cirovski continued. “I just feel we didn’t do our part.”
Maryland came into this matchup coming off of two impressive road wins, one against Rutgers and the other against No. 18 Coastal Carolina. The Terps were looking to have found their offensive rhythm and were hoping to keep it going against a talented Spartan team.
The Terrapins looked ideal within the first few minutes of play, with a couple of opportunities to get on the scoreboard. The first began with a header by junior defender Donovan Pines that didn’t have enough on it to get passed Michigan State’s veteran goalkeeper Jimmy Hague. Other chances included one from star-studded freshman William James Herve as he launched a promising shot just over the crossbar.
Momentum slowed down for the Terps once the Spartans scored their first goal. It came at the 30-minute mark in the first half when a free kick by freshman Jack Beck landed right in front of Patrick Nielson, who headed it to the low left side of the goal, sneaking beyond Maryland’s goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair.
After that moment, Michigan State never took its foot off the gas; which isn’t surprising considering the Spartans impressive start to the season. It was the second consecutive season that the Spartans went undefeated through their first eight games. Their only loss this season came this past Sunday with a 1-0 loss against Wisconsin.
“They’ve got some attacking weapons…that’s an experienced group back there,” Coach Cirovski said. “But I think a lot of it we brought on ourselves.”
Maryland’s defense had another busy night, which alludes back to the offensive concerns that the Terps have suffered this season. The team finished with nine shot attempts with four on goal. Most of the on-goal shots went straight to Hague, who finished with four saves.
It didn’t get easier for the Terrapins in the second half. Sophomore Eli Crognale received a red card after tripping up a Michigan State player and was therefore ejected from the game. Maryland played a man down for the rest of the match. It was shortly after Crognale’s departure when Michigan State freshman Farai Mutatu made a great run up the left side, where Crognale would’ve been present. Mutatu had a one-on-one situation with senior Andrew Samuels and once he got inside the box, sent a strike to the opposite side of the goal, which St. Clair could do little to save.
“They’re very organized and stuck to their game plan. They did well with what they had to do,” said senior forward Sebastian Elney who had a relatively quiet night despite taking two of the four on goal shot attempts.
“Discipline.” Elney responded when asked about what Maryland needs to do to get better. “We know what happened, we know our mistakes and what we did. We just have to stay focused,”
The Terps had another scare towards the end of regulation when a save by St. Clair was believed to have went behind the goal line after he bobbled picking it up. The referees reviewed the play and declared it wasn’t a goal, after which the Terrapins took a sigh of relief.
Maryland had a couple of additional opportunities to lessen the 2-0 deficit. One included a powerful rebound kick from Andrew Samuels after an unsuccessful corner kick. Samuels’ kick sailed just wide. Pines had another header off of a corner to total his four header attempts. They either sailed too high or too wide and weren’t even close to being on target. Michigan State’s backline, who also has some height to counter Pines’ 6-foot-5 stature, remained solid all night.
The Terps fall to 2-2 in Big Ten play which puts them, pointwise, tied for third place with Wisconsin. Michigan State moves up to second place tied with Indiana. Maryland has little time to prepare for their next rivalry matchup against the Georgetown Hoyas. The game is set for Monday at 3 p.m. in Washington D.C.