#1 Terps survive scare, clinch regular season Big Ten title

Past and current players join together for a picture to celebrate the team's Big 10 victory. (Heather Kim)
Past and current players join together for a picture to celebrate the team’s Big 10 victory. (Heather Kim)

The University of Maryland Men’s Soccer team overcame a second half push from a tough University of Wisconsin team to pull out a 3-2 overtime victory.

Maryland started slow and Wisconsin relished the opportunity, passing the ball around fluidly, but failed to translate possession into goal scoring moments.

From the start the Terps looked to utilize their speed and athleticism on the flanks, and 11 minutes in it paid dividends. Defender Andrew Samuels was fouled after beating a defender with a quick change of pace on the left flank.

Midfielder Amar Sejdic lined up the resulting free kick from just outside the 18-yard-box and whipped in a cross. Senior defender and perennial set-piece threat, Alex Crognale, met the curling ball with a thumping header to the near post.

“This was a goal of ours today, to execute on set pieces,” Maryland Head Coach Sasho Cirovski said. “We haven’t scored a lot of goals directly off set pieces.”

Maryland carried the momentum of the first goal for about 25 minutes, as Wisconsin, struggling to deal with Maryland’s speed, repeatedly committed fouls that resulted in dangerous set pieces.

DJ Reeves, sophomore, fights hard against Wisconsin to help the team eventually win in overtime. (Heather Kim)
DJ Reeves, sophomore, fights hard against Wisconsin to help the team eventually win in overtime. (Heather Kim)

Thanks to some dangerous attacks led by junior forward Christopher Mueller – labeled as “a top player in the league” by Cirovski – Wisconsin managed to swing the momentum in their favor heading into halftime.

The first half could have featured three or four more goals had it not been for some stellar goalkeeping on both sides. Maryland’s Cody Niedermeier made three important stops, while Wisconsin’s Philipp Schilling kept the Badgers alive by way of four big saves.

“Cody was amazing, as always,” fire protection engineering graduate student Atif Khan said. “Nobody likes Philipp I guess, on this side. He made good saves though, I’ve got to give it to him.”

The second half opened with Wisconsin on the offensive. They pressed and looked dangerous.

It took the Badgers 63 minutes to find the back of the net.

Mueller stepped up to take a free kick just left of Maryland’s 18-yard box. He sent in a low, driven ball toward the near post and got a fortunate deflection from defender Sam Brotherton.

“The first one was just a fortuitous ball. I mean, it was an innocent looking ball in there and it looked like it was going to go right to Cody,” Cirovski said. “It was just one of those bang-bang plays.”

Three minutes later Wisconsin doubled up on a Mark Segbers goal, forcing Maryland’s senior leaders to step up.

“Just to stay composed, stay relaxed. There was plenty of time left to play,” Crognale said. “Keep our cool and, you know, keep pushing for that equalizer.”

Their composure paid off with just three minutes left.

Sejdic swung in a corner, which was flicked on by a teammate before finding the head of Crognale – who calmly guided the ball into the back of the net, and sent the game to overtime.

Seven minutes into overtime time midfielder D.J. Reeves found fellow forward Eryk Williamson, who slotted the ball home from eight yards out.

“It felt good. It was kind of like a relief because I haven’t been scoring this year and the guys have been pushing me,” Williamson said.

With the golden goal Maryland clinched the regular season Big Ten Title.

“We showed some championship fiber today, in the same game that we showed a little bit of weakness,” Cirovski said. “It’s an incredible statement of excellence for us…. but to be fair … this is the third most important of the championships we’re seeking.”

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