The top seeded Maryland Terrapins mens soccer team’s 25-match unbeaten run came to a screeching halt on Sunday as the unseeded Providence Friars overcame a 4-1 deficit to beat the Terps 5-4 at Ludwig Field, ending Maryland’s NCAA Tournament dreams.
“We knew tonight with the wind swirling there could be a lot of crazy things happen, but I didn’t imagine anything this crazy,” Maryland Head Coach Sasho Cirovski said. “I think all year we’ve been playing with fire a little bit, and today we got burned.”
After scoring two goals early in the second half, bringing their lead to 4-1, Maryland allowed four unanswered Providence goals.
“It’s just a hard one to process,” Cirovski said. “I would have bet my own life that my team wouldn’t give up five goals at home.”
The Terps started the game in clinical form, and six minutes in it paid dividends, as Gordon Wild stepped up to take a free kick from 35-yards-out, launching a rocket into the top left corner of the goal: 1-0 Maryland.
Just five minutes later, Providence responded. Friars’ midfielder Brendan Constantine intercepted Maryland left-back Andrew Samuels’ sloppy pass and then slipped the ball to forward Julian Gressel who connected on a six-yard shot: 1-1.
In the 22nd minute Amar Sejdic gave Maryland the lead when he curled a 40-yard free kick into the top right corner: 2-1 Terps.
Sejdic found the back of the net again in the 51st minute when he collected a rebound off DJ Reeves’ shot, which was cleared off the goal line, and volleyed it home from the top of the 18-yard-box: 3-1 Terps.
Two minutes later, after a series action in front of goal, Terps midfielder Eryk Williamson slotted the ball home from 10-yards-out: 4-1 Terps.
Up three goals, Maryland appeared to take their foot off the gas, but nothing could prepare them for Providence’s response.
The Friars first of four unanswered goals came in the 70th minute when Gressel collected a rebound off Maryland goalkeeper Cody Niedermeier’s save and slotted the ball home: 4-2 Terps.
“The ball deflected into the forwards path, and, what can you do about that?” Sejdic said. “I thought we had control of the game with 25 minutes left.”
Less than a minute later Providence struck again off a 30-yard bending shot from defender Nick Sailor – the wind undoubtedly influenced the ball flight and left Niedermeier helpless in the Maryland goal: 4-3 Terps.
“It was a hell of a shot from the kid,” Sejdic said.
Coach Cirovski added, “[Sailor] scores a goal, that I’m sure, he’s never scored in his entire life… crazy things happen in these windy conditions.”
Five minutes later Providence added another goal as defender Steven Kilday fired a shot through traffic from 25-yards-out. The ball found its way through a crowd of players, which obstructed Niedermeier’s view, before finding the back of the net: 4-4.
In the 81st minute Friars’ defender Joao Serrano curled a corner to the back post – it found the side netting untouched: 5-4 Providence.
“We give up an Olympico goal… I haven’t seen one in college, you know, in 25 years,” Cirovski said.
Maryland fought hard for an equalizer, but nothing materialized. Providence’s 12-minute stretch of four goals was too much to overcome for the Terps.
“I don’t really find words for what just happened, this game,” Maryland’s leading scorer on the year, Gordon Wild, said. “Our seniors can be proud of what we achieved this season.”
“A couple of their goals came out of nothing, really, but they went in the back of the net and that changes games,” Cirovski said. “We’re just left to wonder what could have been.”