College Park -- Going into yesterday's third-round NCAA tournament game against St. John's, Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski said his team had to do a better job putting teams away whenever it's able to take an early lead.
While Maryland (17-4-1) was able to score an early goal against the Red Storm, the lead lasted only eight minutes before St. John's pulled even.
Still, the Terps have seven players who have started NCAA tournament games in previous years, and they never got rattled. They continued to attack by playing long balls into St. John'sterritory or taking on defenders one-on-one.
The strategy eventually paid off as Stephen King, who also scored the Terps' first goal, and Robbie Rogers each scored in the second half as the Terps produced a 3-1 win in front of 2,173 at Ludwig Field.
The victory meant Maryland will host a quarterfinal match at 1 p.m. Saturday against Akron, which beat Connecticut on penalty kicks yesterday.
"I was concerned coming in because I thought St. John's was a much better team than their lack of seeding indicated this year," Cirovski said. "I thought in the second half we took the game over. We came out with a very aggressive mentality. Our rotation in the midfield was much better. Our execution going forward was a lot crisper."
The Terps were sluggish last week in their 1-0 win over Brown in the second round of the tournament after an 11-day layoff at the end of the Atlantic Coast Conference season.
After a solid week of practice, Maryland played more crisply yesterday but still had trouble capitalizing on several chances against the Red Storm, which came into the game having allowed 13 goals in 22 games.
The Terps struck early when King took a pass from Marc Burch from the top of the box and scored past goalkeeper Jason Landers 11:50 into the game.
St. John's (11-6-5) tied it eight minutes later when forward Matt Groenwald flicked a pass off his head to Sebastian Alvarado-Ralph, who was camped out at the far post and sent the ball into the far corner past Maryland goalie Chris Seitz.
Each team had a number of chances in the remainder of the half. Freshman Seitz showed how much he has grown this season, coming up with acrobatic saves on point-blank shots.
"My defense has been helping me out all season," Seitz said. "They pretty much have made it easy for me all year. They come up big."
With 26 minutes left, the Terps finally found a hole in the Red Storm's defense. King ran onto a cross from Burch and put the ball in the low corner of the net.
St. John's nearly tied it with nine minutes left, but Andre Schmid's header hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced away.
Terps midfielder Rogers scored an insurance goal with eight seconds left, putting in a shot from 16 yards on a counterattack.
Maryland is now 16-0-1 this season when scoring first.
Goals: SJ-Alvarado-Ralph; M-King 2, Rogers. Assists: SJ-Groenwald; M-Burch 2, Garey. Saves: SJ-Landers 4; M-Seitz 6.
Akron@ Maryland NCAA quarterfinal, Saturday, 1 p.m.