Russell Shealy rushed off his line, making a beeline for a loose ball. But as he went to launch a clearance down the pitch, the Maryland men’s soccer goalie second guessed himself. As the ball trickled past him, UCLA’s Milan Iloski made a run at goal, snatching the loose ball and rounding two defenders before finishing into an empty net.
It was the Bruins’ third goal on the night, all three coming off the foot of Iloski, and the second major blunder from Shealy.
Aside from the goalie’s errors, the Terps played UCLA to a relatively even 90 minutes. However, the mistakes proved costly. A late Maryland push couldn’t overturn a 3-1 deficit, and the Terps lost 3-2 to the unranked Bruins.
The Terps couldn’t find any late heroics after midfielder Brayan Padilla curled in a dramatic free kick in the 70th minute. Maryland sent bodies forward in an attempt to snatch a late equalizer, but in the end fell victim to defensive mishaps.
Maryland started the game on the front foot, aggressively pressing UCLA’s tentative backline. Their high press yielded results, as the Terps finally found a goal from open play. Crognale picked up the ball high up the pitch and fed striker Matzelvich in the box. Goalie Justin Garces parried the forward’s original attempt but blocked the ball right into the path of Matzelevich, who finished cooly into an empty net.
After opening the scoring, Maryland dropped back, inviting UCLA pressure. The Bruins obliged, enjoying a sustained period of possession. In the 19th minute, they hit Maryland on the break. Eric Iloski burst down the middle of the pitch before finding Milan Iloski on an overlap. The striker took the ball into the box, and shot at Russell Shealy’s near post. But the keeper fumbled the effort, and the ball dribbled into the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1.
The game devolved into a scrappier affair after the Bruins’ goal. Maryland cracked down on UCLA’s counter attacks, battling for the ball in midfield. And after struggling in that area against Virginia, the Terps excelled on Friday. Nick Richardson broke up play and distributed from the No. 6 role, giving Maryland chances to play quickly. Its rapid play yielded some opportunities, one of which Crognale fired over the bar from outside the box.
But UCLA stifled extended periods of Maryland pressure. For all their possession, the Terps couldn’t get a crucial second goal to take the lead at halftime. Still, aside from Shealy’s mishap, the Terps dominated the opening 45 minutes.
Maryland started the second half pressing high up the pitch, forcing multiple giveaways in the final third. It came close on a goal line scramble, with Garces somehow preventing the ball from crossing the line.
But despite Maryland’s pressure, the Bruins nabbed the first goal of the second half. Milan Iloski found space outside the box, smoothly cut onto his right foot and found the top corner to the elation of Wallis Annenberg Stadium.
He capped off his hat trick 10 minutes later, taking advantage of a second blunder from Shealy. The keeper rushed off his line, but got caught between two minds trying to clear the ball. Milan Iloski snatched onto the loose ball, just keeping the ball in bounds. He went to work from there, evading Shealy and two defenders before finishing for a 3-1 lead.
Trailing by two with 30 minutes remaining, the Terps had to make something happen, and Brayan Padilla provided the spark. The sophomore stepped up for a free kick from just outside the box, and whipped a shot into the top right corner to pull Maryland within one.
Coach Sasho Cirovski seized on the opportunity to get back in the game. He deployed an attacking 3-4-3 formation and pushed his players up relentlessly. And the scoring chances flowed. However, the Terps couldn’t find the back of the net. Garces was equal to every single Maryland shot, keeping his team in the lead.
Maryland had one last chance to find an equalizer with a long throw in the dying seconds. However, Richardson’s looping throw couldn’t find a Maryland head, and the Terps were left wanting as the final whistle sounded.