COLLEGE PARK - The defenses were so capable, so taut, that all day it appeared to be the kind of match that would be decided on a freakish bounce or fluky twist.
When that development arrived yesterday, it was Maryland's aggression that forced it, and the Terrapins capitalized for a 1-0 overtime victory over Saint Louis at Ludwig Field that carried them into the final eight of the NCAA Division I men's soccer tournament.
Maryland (19-4) will oppose Connecticut - a 1-0 victor over Indiana in the round of 16 - in the quarterfinals in College Park at 1 p.m. Saturday for a berth in the final four in Dallas on Dec. 13.
In frigid, blustery conditions, the Terps broke out of an even first half to apply most of the pressure the remainder of the game but could not break the scoreless tie until the 94:42 mark.
The ball came from Maryland's side of the field with forward Domenic Mediate in pursuit. He arrived just after Billikens goalkeeper Martin Hutton, who had called his defenders off the ball.
Hutton kicked it squarely into Mediate's chest, and the Terps sophomore didn't give up on the play, following through to score into an invitingly open goal.
"Domenic is explosive, as we have seen throughout the year," Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski said. "We got stronger and stronger as the game went on. It was a matter of time."
Saint Louis (15-4-2) thus was eliminated in its 41st NCAA appearance in the 44-year history of the championships. The Billikens have won a record 10 national titles.
"It was just a lucky bounce," Hutton said. "That's how the game of soccer goes."
Maryland's defense, guided by tri-captain Scott Buete, shared the hero's mantle with Mediate, deflecting Saint Louis' attack all afternoon and allowing Terps keeper Noah Palmer to make only one save.
The Billikens' leading scorers - Conference USA Player of the Year Jason Cole and all-conference forward Jack Jewsbury - never fired a legitimate shot at goal. Overall, Maryland outshot the opposition, 19-5.
Earlier, Mediate had one attempt that hit the near post and rolled away, and Hutton made a one-handed save on Abe Thompson on Maryland's two biggest opportunities.
"I thought it was one of our best defensive games of the year," Cirovski said. "We did a great job of doing the simple things under difficult conditions."
In the next round, the Terps will be facing a team that defeated them, 2-0, at Connecticut on Oct. 12.
"I'm kind of ready for this," Mediate said. "We got a second shot against Virginia and we won that (3-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament final). Now, we get a second one against Connecticut."
Maryland is 12-0 at home this season.
Saint Louis 0 0 0 - 0
Maryland 0 0 1 - 1
Goal: M-Mediate. Saves: SL-Hutton 8, Team 1. M-Palmer 1.