Terps advance to NCAA Elite Eight

Defense comes up big as UM avenges regular-season loss to Golden Bears

Maryland Men's Soccer 2, California 1

November 30, 2008|By From Sun staff reports

After falling in a dramatic fashion in the third round the previous two seasons, the Maryland men's soccer team proved the third time's the charm yesterday, defeating California, 2-1, at Ludwig Field to advance to the NCAA Elite Eight.

The Terps (20-3-0) missed on two scoring chances before getting their first goal. Jason Herrick tapped a ball to Casey Townsend, who made a nice turn and passed to Jeremy Hall coming down the pipe, but Hall's strike went high of the goal. Three minutes later, Townsend made another fantastic turn in the box and took the shot himself, but Golden Bears goalkeeper Stefan Frei saved the shot up the middle.

The Terps got on the board at 18:41 when Graham Zusi lifted a ball on a set piece off a corner to Omar Gonzalez, who headed the ball home for a 1-0 Maryland lead. It was the junior defender's fifth goal of the season and his first since Oct. 14 against Lehigh. It was the second game in a row that the Terps headed into the half holding the lead.

California (12-4-5) struck first in the second half with a pair of shots, but the Maryland defense held steadfast and kept the Bears scoreless while the offense, courtesy of Hall, gave Maryland a two-goal cushion with his team-leading 14th goal of the season at 52:26. The midfielder from Tampa, Fla., lofted a ball that deflected off the Cal back line and above Frei into the upper left corner.

The Golden Bears began to find their rhythm midway through the second half. After a terrific save by Frei, the Bears finally scored on Andrew Wiedeman's shot at 67:37.

The win tied a Maryland season record and provided redemption for the Terps, who fell to Cal, 1-0, in August. "It feels good to get past this one," coach Sasho Cirovski said. "The last two years at this stage, we had some heartbreaking losses, and I think you saw a team that is matured."

The Terps will host Creighton (16-1-2), a 2-1 overtime winner over Connecticut, at 1 p.m. Saturday.

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