Behind goals from Gordon Wild and Amar Sejdic, the Maryland Terrapins men’s soccer team defeated Michigan State, 2-1, in the Big Ten Semifinals Friday afternoon in Westfield, Indiana.
Coming off three straight overtime victories, including one against Michigan in the Big Ten Quarterfinals Sunday, the No. 1 seed Terps were looking to take an early lead against the No. 4 Spartans.
After the teams traded possession to start the contest, the Terps found a break in the 17th minute, Jake Rozhansky dribbled down the field to the top of the box, but lost possession on a diving block by a Spartan defender. The ball trickled away, however, and Wild knocked the loose ball into the back of the net with a familiar left-foot strike. It was his 16th goal of the season, most in the Big Ten and matching his total from last year at USC Upstate.
Now up 1-0, the Terps had the advantage over a Michigan State team that kept pressing onto Maryland’s half of the field but couldn’t capitalize. Just minutes after Wild’s goal, the Spartans had a good look from the left edge of the box, but George Campbell, the hero of Sunday’s game, blocked the shot. The Spartans hoped for a handball call, but it was determined to be a clean block. Sejdic, the All-Big Ten midfielder, had two scoring chances later in the half, but just missed on each, first wide right and then just high and right of the goal.
Going into the half, Maryland led 1-0, but shots were even between the two teams at four apiece.
Looking to extend the lead in the second half, Rozhansky again set up a scoring opportunity when he drew a penalty in the box. Sejdic took the penalty kick and this time did not miss, finding the far-left corner of the net for his seventh goal of the season, good for second on the team behind Wild.
Now with a two goal lead, the Terps needed to hold on for just 30 minutes to secure a spot in the Big Ten championship for the third straight season.
In the 86th minute, Michigan State got on the board after confusion in front of the net on an own goal ended with Maryland goalkeeper Cody Niedermeier knocking in an own goal to make it 2-1.
This was all they would get, however, as the Terps defense kept them off the board otherwise despite the Spartans outshooting the Terps 15-6. Niedermeier made five saves en route to the 2-1 victory, and the Terps clinched a spot in the Big Ten Championship game.
“I thought it was a very good overall performance for us,” Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “We were connected throughout. We showed the energy, focus and determination was what was required in a challenging semifinal matchup against an opponent like Michigan State.”
Maryland will take on No. 3 seed Wisconsin Sunday afternoon, looking for their third straight Big Ten title.