No. 8 Maryland soccer defeats Rutgers behind improbable comeback

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

With Rutgers holding onto a narrow 2-1 lead, Maryland captain Malcolm Johnson delivered his team-leading fifth tally of the season off of a bicycle kick in the 63rd minute to carry his Terps back to even. 

No. 8 Maryland battled back from a two-goal deficit to stun Rutgers, 3-2.

Maryland’s six-game winning streak was in jeopardy after conceding two goals in just two minutes to open up the scoring. 

With the weather in play, the Scarlet Knights took the lead in the 20th minute off a boot from Rutgers’ leading scorer MD Myers. The attacker scored his eighth goal of the year by latching onto a through ball from Thomas DeVizio, placing it in the top corner.

Due to inclement weather, the game was moved from 7 p.m. to 3:45 p.m. at the Miller Family Soccer Complex after Yurcak Field was swamped due to the rain, with no fans allowed into the complex to watch.

After getting his team the lead early, Myers used his brilliant touch just outside the six-yard box to redirect a shot from Cole Cruthers off his head into the right side of the net, sending Maryland goalkeeper Niklas Neumann the wrong way. 

Following the goal to put Rutgers up 2-0, Hunter George responded with a clinical goal himself, putting the ball into the far side netting from 25 yards out to get his group going, his first score since the Terps’ opening game vs. New Hampshire. 

After 45 minutes, the Terps held a slim 3-2 shots-on-target lead, but neither team could finish in the final 20 minutes of the first half as Rutgers took the advantage into the dressing room. 

18 minutes into the second half, with both teams in a stalemate, Johnston brought his Terps back to even following a bicycle kick goal after receiving a header from Stefan Copetti. This was Johnston’s first goal from the run of play all season.

“You know, he’s [Johnston] a young man that has so much talent, and sometimes I get frustrated he doesn’t showcase it,” Head Coach Sasho Cirovski said. “I’ve challenged him to kind of showcase more of his abilities, attacking abilities … I think he’s really picked up his overall influence in the game over the last four or five games.”

Nick Richardson put the Terps up just 11 minutes later to cap the comeback for the Terps. After Rutgers mishandled a Hunter George cross, Richardson tallied his third goal in only six games. 

“It feels good, but I feel like it’s kind of just paying off in the long run,” said Richardson. “I’m happy that the team is winning.” 

Following the go-ahead goal, Neumann made two big-time saves late, including one on Pablo Avila in the 82nd minute, to close Rutgers out in his first game since September 10.

Maryland handed Rutgers their first home loss of the season, moving into sole position of first place in the Big Ten. 

“This was a fantastic win by any measure,” coach Cirovski said. “We played well in the first half… they scored two goals on two chances … I thought our guys stayed composed.”

The Terps will look to continue its seven-game unbeaten streak against Northwestern on Sunday.