UNC Soccer: Maryland Game Reaction


Tonight the Tar Heels Men’s Soccer Team played Maryland in College Park. The Tar Heels lost on a dreary night, as Maryland’s Schilo Tshuma deflected a shot from Patrick Mullins into the Tar Heel goal in the 98th minute. The Tar Heels did well in a game which could have gone either way as both teams had a few great opportunities to score. The match kicked off on schedule despite heavy rain, but the conditions had a heavy influence as did the Maryland pitch.

The first half began poorly for the Heels, as the Terrapins jumped out of the gate whilst the Tar Heels seemed to limp. The Terrapins pressed deep into the Carolina half and prevented the Heels from ever getting forward, and the few times when the Heels got the ball back they were either unable to play from the back without getting pressed of the ball or unable to pass through the midfield due to the wet conditions. I believe that the Terrapins showed great gamesmanship as the half of the pitch the Tar Heels attacked in the first half was uneven and covered in puddles, preventing any good passing moves, whereas the half the Terrapins attacked was drier. In the second half, the pitch dried off considerably, meaning that the Terrapins played on two drier halves.

Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-US PRESSWIRE

The Terrapins’ advantage in possession meant that they were able to get off more shots and crosses than the Tar Heels, but the Tar Heel defense did well to keep the Terrapins from converting. Additionally, Scott Goodwin was at his best throughout regular time and looked confident, keeping out Maryland’s’ shots and punching away a number of crosses. The Tar Heels made only two chances in the first half, but they were both good ones. Danny Garcia’s run into the box from the left wing in the 27th minute saw him chopped down by a Maryland defender, but the match official chose not to give the obvious penalty kick. In the 42nd minute Garcia was at it again, and his ball from the left managed to meet the heads of two UNC strikers but could not find its way into the goal.

The game was delayed 10 minutes at halftime to help the pitch dry. The Maryland groundskeeper advised abandoning the match, but the coaches of both teams elected to continue. The Tar Heels showed a lot more energy after the break, and managed to even out the play somewhat. Although the Terrapins hit the post with a header from a corner kick just after the restart, the Tar Heels managed to get forward much more in the second half and in the 63rd minute UNC’s Verneri Valimaa unleashed a gorgeous curling shot from outside the box only to see it bounce off an upright post.

The Tar Heels got their first corner of the match in the 65th minute, but after this point the tide turned back in favor of the Terrapins. Maryland pressed hard for 15 minutes, and the Tar heels had a hard time getting back into the attack until the 83rd minute, when Garcia was again denied a penalty after his shot was deflected by a Maryland hand. In the 86th, Scott Goodwin spilled a long range shot in the box, but the Tar Heel defense scrambled to clear away. The trouble was not over, and In the 88th, Mikey Lopez headed a Maryland corner off the line.

 Mikey Lopez’s heroic header started the counter which led to Rob Lovejoy dancing into the box and being hacked down. This time the referee had no doubts and gave the PK. Unfortunately, Lovejoy’s 89th minute penalty was a tame one which was easily saved, so Lovejoy was unable to win the game in the last minute. Regular time ended with Scott Goodwin pushing a Maryland shot from long range into the post.

The game did get chippy late on when a dangerous challenge from UNC’s Jordan McCrary saw most of the Maryland team mob both poor McCrary and the linesman, who recommended a booking instead of a sending off. The Twerps didn’t seem satisfied with only a yellow card. Technically mobbing the referee should have seen all Maryland players involved booked, but I digress.

Extra time saw Lopez’s shot nearly deflected home by Andy Craven, but he came to rue his miss as just 5 minutes later Terrapin Patrick Mullins’s shot was deflected into goal by Schilo Tshuma, winning the game for Maryland.

Maryland was able to press the Tar Heels by playing a four-diamond-two formation, meaning that they had enough men in the midfield and enough pressure from their forwards to win the ball in Carolina’s half and then quickly attack. Their attacking Modus Operandi was to play the ball along the wing and cross into the box, which was often loaded with Maryland players. Luckily for the Heels, the defense was well equipped to handle the long balls, and whatever they missed was cleaned up by Scott Goodwin. The Tar Heels got back into the game when they dropped their passing style, which was untenable on the waterlogged pitch. A more direct “dribble first, pass later, and let’s see what happens off this long ball” strategy worked well, as while the Heels prefer to pass their way around opponents, the Tar Heel players are all capable (and many are more than capable) on the ball.

The Tar Heels showed great spirit tonight to block a bevy of Terrapin attacks, but they let in just one shot which proved to be decisive. Kudos to the defense and Scott Goodwin who looked unbeatable for 98 minutes. Considering that the Tar Heels were territorially dominated in the game, we can be proud that they held on, had several chances to win, and were only bested after 98 minutes of intense pressure.

The next game for the heels will be on Tuesday against Campbell at home. The Game will be broadcast on ESPN3.