Minds on Richmond, Terps win 2-1 NCAA victory raises UM hopes of trip south

November 23, 1998|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

COLLEGE PARK -- For the Maryland men's soccer team, the University of Richmond didn't just represent its NCAA first-round opponent, but its final destination.

Showing their intentions of making a serious run in the NCAA tournament, the Terrapins dictated play from start to finish, receiving first-half goals from Taylor Twellman and Randy Merkel to oust Final Four host Richmond, 2-1, yesterday before 1,225 at Ludwig Field.

Maryland (14-7) advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament, where it will play Jacksonville, which pulled off the biggest upset in the first round by edging No. 3 Duke, 3-2, yesterday. The time and site of the second-round game will be announced today.

"This is the first step of five that we're going to take to get to Richmond," said Twellman, a high-scoring freshman forward who notched his fifth game-winning goal of the season in the 25th minute.

Richmond (14-7-2) had entered as one of the hottest teams in the tournament, having won eight of its previous nine games. But Maryland displayed playoff savvy and assumed control immediately, taking 11 of the game's first 12 shots.

After the Spiders narrowed their deficit to 2-1 early in the second half, the Terps tightened their defense, allowing just three more shots for the remainder of the game.

"I thought Maryland being at home came out really strong and dug too big of a hole for us," Richmond coach Jeff Gettler said. "They got at us and they were sharp on both sides of the ball."

The Terps marched into the round of 16 for the fifth consecutive year, the best current streak in the nation. However, Maryland hasn't moved past that round in three decades.

"I think we've clearly established ourselves as one of the most consistent and elite programs in the country," said Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski, who recorded his 100th career victory yesterday.

"But I'm not happy with that. Right now, none of these players came here just to play in the first and second rounds. It's our mission to get past that."

Maryland opened its scoring 18 1/2 minutes into the game, when Merkel broke free of two Richmond defenders on a tremendous vTC individual effort to net just his second goal of the season.

Merkel, a senior who mainly concentrates his efforts at the defensive end, faked to the outside before cutting inside and sneaking the ball inside the near post from 13 yards.

Just 6 1/2 minutes later, the Terps caught a break as forward Jason Cropley found himself wide open on the left wing after a collision sent Spiders defender Justin Usher to the ground.

Richmond's Mason Weems rotated to Cropley, who set up an unmarked Twellman for a five-yard shot. It was Twellman's team-best 15th goal of the season.

"I thought we probably won the game in the first half," Cirovski said. "Whatever we wanted to do, we did. We created a lot of great scoring chances and I thought we really set the tempo. That was the key."

The Spiders closed to within a goal 4 1/2 minutes into the second half when Andy Moden converted a pass from Craig Ziadie.

However, the Terps moved into more of a defensive formation, pulling a forward back to midfield. As a result, Richmond could only put one more shot on goal for the final 40 minutes.

Maryland also didn't back down from any confrontations in the second half, drawing four yellow cards in the period for its aggressive play. The Terps uncharacteristically committed 25 fouls to Richmond's 23.

"We want our team to go out and play hard," Cirovski said. "Almost every game, we've been out-fouled. And there's no way that we're going to let any team come to our field here and put a larger physical presence on us."

Pub Date: 11/23/98

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