Terps' season ends on empty, 1-0

Reserve's 1st goal of 1999 lifts St. John's, as UM falls in 1st round of NCAAs

College Soccer

November 22, 1999|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,SUN STAFF

COLLEGE PARK -- Maryland defender Nick Downing cupped his hands behind his head and collapsed to his knees as the final seconds ticked off the clock. Terrapins forward Taylor Twellman walked off the field hastily while shaking his head, contemplating the missed opportunities, as well as his future.

Gambling to score in the waning minutes of regulation, Maryland's men's soccer team had its national championship run busted with one mistake in NCAA tournament first round yesterday.

Counterattacking off a Terrapins turnover, St. John's midfielder Carlo Acquista broke free to score the game's only goal uncontested with 1: 37 remaining, lifting the unseeded Red Storm to a 1-0 upset of No. 7 Maryland before 910 at Ludwig Field. On Acquista's first goal of the season, St. John's (12-5-3) advances to meet Penn State in the second round.

Maryland (14-6), which had been ranked No. 1 by Soccer America two weeks in September and never fell lower than No. 12, had reached the NCAA second round for five straight years. National semifinalists last year, the Terrapins seethed over their numerous failed chances as they held the advantage in shots (13-8) and corner kicks (9-4).

"Obviously, we're very disappointed to lose this game because we played well enough to win -- no doubt about it," Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski said. "We gave it away. That's the cruelty of soccer: If you don't put away your chances, you'll lose."

Twellman took the Terrapins' final four shots, all coming in the last 26 1/2 minutes. The sophomore forward, who has had 12 game-winners in his career, nearly put Maryland ahead with a leaping scissors kick from 8 yards that zipped to the left side of the goal. But Red Storm goalkeeeper Dan Popik lunged for the save to keep the Terrapins scoreless for their second straight NCAA tournament game, dating to last year's 1-0 semifinal loss to Stanford.

Now Twellman, Maryland's leading scorer the past two seasons, has to confront speculation that he may turn professional and leave for Major League Soccer.

"I've always said the most fun I had was last year's tournament. Now, sitting here and going over what I should have done and didn't do, I don't know what I'm doing," said Twellman, who put two of his seven shots on goal. "My goal was to win a national championship. This year, we didn't do that. Right now, I don't have a clue."

Acquista, a reserve who re-entered the game with 16 minutes remaining, delivered the Red Storm's only shot in the final 23 minutes.

With Maryland's defenders constantly attacking and pushing the ball upfield, St. John's caught the Terrapins on their heels after Red Storm midfielder Patrick Lonergan intercepted a pass at midfield. Taking Lonergan's lead pass that split Maryland's Dan Califf and Mike Shebuski, Acquista outran them for 20 yards and easily angled the ball into the left corner of the goal.

"It came down to a reaction save," said Maryland goalkeeper Christian Lewis (Centennial), who charged the ball, yet didn't come close to a save on a diving try. "It's a tough situation to deal with."

After the game, Acquista ran to the stands for a cell phone. "Papa, we won and I scored the game-winning goal," he said.

On the field, the Terrapins attempted to cope with their earliest NCAA tournament exit in Cirovski's seven seasons.

"St. John's came in very determined to defend us and patiently waited for their chance," Cirovski said. "This is just another obstacle for us to overcome. We'll be back."

Goal: SJ--Acquista. Assist: SJ--Longerhan. Saves: SJ--Popik 4; M--Lewis 3. Half: 0-0.

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