COLLEGE PARK — Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski sat at his post-game news conference with his eyes downcast, calling Saturday's NCAA tournament loss to Michigan the "most gut-wrenching" in his 18 years at Ludwig Field.
A goal by freshman Fabio Pereira three minutes into the second overtime gave the 10th-seeded Wolverines a 3-2 victory over the second-seeded Terrapins in the quarterfinals before an announced 3,536. After the goal, the Maryland players collapsed on the field, inconsolable at the abrupt end to what had been one of the program's most dominant seasons.
Michigan, playing in only its 11th season, advanced to its first College Cup against the winner of No. 3 Akron and No. 6 California on Friday in Santa Barbara, Calif. Maryland finished the season at 19-3-1 and had its 15-game winning streak snapped.
"At no point did I feel like we were going to lose this game," Cirovski said. "Our guys rebounded. We did everything but put the ball in the back of the net. By my recollection, we had seven high-quality opportunities unfinished."
Maryland outshot Michigan 33-18, but the Terrapins struggled to put the ball on goal.
Michigan's strategy against Maryland was to maintain pressure against the Terps, preventing them from quickly moving into their high-powered attack. The Wolverines (17-4-3) created some early scoring chances, but Zac MacMath came up big with two diving saves in the opening 13 minutes.
A goal by Casey Townsend gave Maryland a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute. That was a good omen for the Terps, who had not relinquished a lead all season and were undefeated when scoring the game's first goal. The Wolverines, however, didn't blink and goals by Jeff Quijano and Justin Meram in 10 minutes in the second half gave them a 2-1 lead.
Jason Herrick then tied the game two minutes later on a rising shot from 20 yards with 11 minutes remaining. Maryland defender Alex Lee kept the game tied when he cleared a shot off the line in the closing minutes.
"Maryland is a very good team," Michigan coach Steve Burns said. "They've done a great job in trying to press you in your back half of the field. We felt we could play through a lot of the pressure, but we also needed to recognize we had to go back at them with counters and direct play."
After regulation, tempers flared and several players pushed and shoved each other before being separated. The Terps controlled the first overtime as headers by Herrick and Townsend nearly gave them the victory. Pereira had much better fortune for Michigan, scoring after making a darting run to collect a pass from Hamoody Saad.
"I usually don't make those runs, but coach kept telling me to make the run," Pereira said. "I was wide open so I was happy to score."