Maryland men’s soccer settles with a draw against a stingy Rutgers squad

(Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics.)

The eighth ranked Maryland Terrapins love to matchup at a luminous Ludwig Field, and this contest treated the most dedicated fans in the country as the No. 8 Terps hosted No. 24 Rutgers in their first ranked matchup of the year at home. 

The Terps faced a different type of adversity tonight, and they came away with a tough point. It was a grind game, and they struggled all the way through despite the adversity. 

The Scarlet Knights started the more dynamic side in possession, but could not make too much of their possession, the closest chance coming off of a Caco Fernandez header that flew well over the bar. Meanwhile, the Terps could not garner much with the little possession they had. 

The Terps had their first shot from distance from Jacen Russell-Rowe, and it was quickly followed by a second shot from Ben Bender that went well wide. Substitutes Justin Gielen, Caden Stafford, and Brayan Padilla could not provide a spark in a relatively eventless first half. Stafford provided the only other shot of the half.

The Scarlet Knights came out strong from the break, as poor marking from the Terps allowed a free header for Richie Barry that sailed wide. The Terps had nothing going and tensions began to boil over when Hunter George got in the face of Rutgers goalkeeper Oren Asher, and the two jawed back and forth. George’s antics epitomized a frustrating first 50 minutes of action for the Terps. 

With six minutes to play, Jackson Temple came to be the closest of anyone to finding the back of the net, beating keeper Niklas Neumann but striking the post from 15 yards out. The Terps followed with two shots of their own on the ensuing attack from Padilla and Gielen, respectively, but neither shot worried Asher, who maintained his clean sheet.

In the waning seconds of regulation, Bolma broke down the left and got fouled with 12 seconds left and the clock did not stop to let the Terps take the free kick. A Rutgers defender took the ball, did not give it back to Bolma and time expired. Many members of the Terps coaching staff were booked for arguing the biggest moment in the match.

Into overtime, two set piece opportunities went the Terps’ way. The first opportunity came from Bolma, a weak opportunity that was saved, and the second one, taken from nearly the exact spot Bolma’s free kick in the second half was sent into the wall by Hunter George. The match finished with Bolma’s strike as the last true chance and the two sides remained deadlocked at the end of overtime.

There were many misplaced passes, and teammates not on the same wavelength as they are used to being. This is the first time that the Terrapins’ manager Sasho Cirovski felt disappointed by the lack of quality displayed up front, but despite that, he was still happy with his team’s effort.

“We were fatigued and not as crisp as we usually are. We had to grind through, and we did grind through,” Cirovski said, “and even though I’m disappointed with the result, I thought our guys left it out there. I thought the effort was outstanding, but the quality could be better.” 

Redshirt Junior defender Nick Richardson, who wore the captain’s armband tonight, agreed that it was a tough go-round.

“These opportunities and challenges come throughout the season, and you just have to push through them,” Richardson said.

The Terps travel to Madison to take on the Wisconsin Badgers at noon on Sunday.