COLLEGE PARK - The Maryland Terrapins mens soccer team had never beaten St. John's, and in the last meeting between the two schools nine months ago, the Red Storm prevented Maryland from advancing to the NCAA tournament title game.
All of that pain disappeared last night in the opening round of the Maryland/Adidas Classic, as the No. 3 Terps jumped on No. 2 St. John's for three unanswered goals early, then rolled to a surprising, 5-2 victory before 3,332, the fourth-largest crowd ever at Ludwig Field.
Junior forward Jason Garey and senior forward Abe Thompson were way too much for St. John's to handle. Garey led the way by recording his first career hat trick with three goals and one assist. Thompson added two goals, both coming in a nightmarish first half for the Red Storm. Midfielder A.J. Godbolt added three assists for the Terps.
Maryland (3-0-0), which will play Georgetown tomorrow in the tournament finale, won for the 28th time in its past 29 games at home, and did so by humbling St. John's (2-1-0). The Red Storm had not surrendered more than four goals since October 1984.
Forward Matt Groenwald and midfielder Andre Schmid scored for the Red Storm. The Terps, who improved to 1-3 against St. John's, are unbeaten in their last 35 games when scoring at least two goals.
The Terps needed just 58 seconds to gain the upper hand as Garey scored on a breakaway that stunned the Red Storm.
"It was important for us to get out and score on them quickly," Garey said. "[Terps coach Sasho Cirovski] stressed coming out hard and taking it to them. I think we definitely were a couple of steps quicker than them."
Thompson started the play near midfield by dumping the ball off to Godbolt, who found Garey sprinting between two St. Johns defenders on the right wing. Garey gathered the pass in stride and beat goalie Bill Gaudette easily from 15 yards to give Maryland a 1-0 lead with 44:02 left in the first half.
Led by Thompson, the Terps kept the pressure on the Red Storm, which gave up 13 shots in the first half after allowing just 10 attempts in its first two games. Shortly after he narrowly missed a score on a header that sailed wide left, Thompson made his next shot count.
Following an entry pass by midfielder Dominic Mediate, Godbolt settled the ball with a chest pass to Thompson, who drilled a 20-yarder into the right corner to make it 2-0 with 28:58 remaining in the half.
Nearly five minutes later, Thompson and Garey caught the St. John's defense flat-footed and put the Red Storm in a 3-0 hole with 24:31 left in the half. Gaudette came out to stuff a shot on the right wing by Garey, but the ensuing carom went to Thompson, who did not waste his open-net opportunity.
St. John's finally showed some life by scoring on a 12-yarder by forward Matt Groenwald with 18:56 to go, cutting the deficit to 3-1.
But Maryland extended its lead to 4-1 on a breakaway goal by Garey a little over six minutes into the second half, and St. John's was done.
"Not in my wildest dreams did I expect to be up 3-0 on St. John's in the first 20 minutes," Cirovski said. "I would have bet this would have been a one-goal game."