Maryland soccer falls to Cornell in NCAA tournament second round

Photo Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Albi Ndrenika saw an opportunity to get his Terps back in it with just three minutes to go. The freshman collected himself and sent a hard shot ball into the bottom left corner to cut Cornell’s lead in half. Unfortunately for Maryland, the goal wasn’t enough as Cornell escaped with a 2-1 win in the second round of the NCAA tournament. 

Fresh off a strong performance in the first round against Fairleigh Dickinson on Thursday, the Terps hit the road to take on No. 14 Cornell in Ithaca, NY. 

Head coach Sasho Cirovski had an abundance of skill at his disposal with Joe Suchecki back from injury. Although Suchecki, senior forward Hunter George, and sophomore midfielder Griffin Dillon — who was ineligible against FDU due to a previous red card — have far more experience, Crivoski decided to start freshmen forwards Colin Griffith and Albi Ndrenika, who has played well as of late. 

The Terps were outstanding in the first half against FDU, scoring three goals in the first 26 minutes while limiting the Knights to zero shots on target. But, Maryland hadn’t seen the same success in the first half this season; the Terps lost to Indiana in the Big Ten semifinal after allowing two first-half goals. 

Playing against the wind, Maryland absorbed sustained pressure from Cornell through the first 15 minutes. Niklas Neumann had to make four saves in the first frame to keep things level.

The Terps ended up settling in and created multiple scoring opportunities but couldn’t convert, going into the dressing room with just one shot on target. 

Both teams struggled to get anything going in the second half, but Cornell took advantage of a sloppy sequence in the Maryland back end. 

With just over six minutes to play, forward Danny Lokko wrestled through two Maryland defenders before finding an open Lalo Serrano just outside the box. Serrano put it back on Lokko’s feet, and the forward made no mistake putting it into the upper netting past Neumann for the opener. 

Lokko wasn’t done there. Just minutes later, the ball was pushed forward by Cornell, and Lokko saw a one-on-one chance with William Kulvik deep in the Maryland end. Lokko set his feet and curled a shot off his right foot past Kulvik and into the bottom corner. 

Kakko’s second goal of the afternoon put Cornell up 2-0 with 3:15 left on the clock. 

Ndrenika’s late goal gave the Terps life, but it was too little too late for Maryland as they fell to No. 14 Cornell on the road in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

This marks the Terps’ 22nd straight NCAA tournament appearance but their third consecutive early exit. 

Cornell will take on the winner of No. 3 Syracuse vs. Penn in the quarterfinals.