Terps again weather Red Storm in tourney

Maryland 2 St. John's 0

November 16, 2006|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun Reporter

The only thing more inevitable than Maryland meeting St. John's in the NCAA tournament is the Terps advancing at Ludwig Field.

Goals by freshman Jeremy Hall and sophomore Graham Zusi carried the defending national champions last night to a 2-0 win over the Red Storm, which was fortunate to keep it that close.

No. 7 Maryland (16-4-1) looked extremely sharp, as it acknowledged the benefits of 12 days' rest and the inspiration of a Tuesday viewing of a video of past Terps' highlights.

"We looked like a fresh, energetic team," coach Sasho Cirovski said of what he considered the crispest performance by his attack since September. "That's what we've been looking for. We got some bounce in our step and put pressure on the other team."

Next up for the fifth-seeded Terps is a round of 16 game against Notre Dame on Saturday at 6 p.m. at Ludwig Field, where Cirovski's program has played 13 straight NCAA tournament matches without a loss.

That streak has taken Maryland to four straight semifinal appearances in the College Cup. It began in 2002, when St. John's beat the Terps in the semifinals, but last night was Maryland's third straight win over the Red Storm in an impromptu postseason series.

No. 9 St. John's (14-6-2) was looking for its 10th straight appearance in the round of 16, but a defense that had been impenetrable for a month seemed dazed and confused.

A young Maryland team that was tentative and tired at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament started slowly, but erupted in the 26th minute.

Senior midfielder A.J. Godbolt split a pair of defenders on the right flank and sent the ball into the area, where a St. John's player inadvertently flicked it back to the far post.

Jason Herrick, who had missed five games recovering from a concussion, was under no pressure as he centered the ball. Neither was Hall, as the ACC Freshman of the Year slid an 8-yard shot past junior goalie Jason Landers for his seventh goal of the season.

It was the first goal against St. John's since Oct. 14, as the Big East Conference champions had played more than 10 hours of scoreless soccer while notching a school-record seven straight shutouts.

A Stephen King header required two great saves in the 45th minute. In the 55th minute, Landers and his backs repelled a flurry of shots that began with a Maurice Edu cross, but a minute later, Zusi made the Red Storm pay for a blown clearing sequence.

Zusi's team-leading 11th goal, from 15 yards, made it 2-0 with 33:43 remaining.

Sophomore goalie Chris Seitz easily posted his 10th shutout. His biggest scare came with 17 minutes left, when St. John's leading scorer Ryan Soroka squandered a chance. Two minutes later, a diving header by Hall went just outside the left post, which he later hit.

If form holds in the round of 16, Maryland would have to leave Ludwig Field for the NCAA quarterfinals Thanksgiving weekend and play at Virginia. paul.mcmullen@baltsun.com

St. John's 0 0 - 0

Maryland 1 1 - 2

Goals: M-Hall, Zusi. Assists: M-Godbolt, Herrick. Saves: SJ-Landers 3; M-Seitz 2. Shots: SJ 6, M 17. A: 1,668.

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