The Terrapins men’s soccer team held a 1-0 lead against Providence last night in the 69th minute of its second-round NCAA tournament match when Friars midfielder Phil Towler finished off a cross from forward Fabio Machado into the top right corner.

Earlier in the season, the No. 5-seed Terps had failed to respond to late equalizers against unranked opponents in a home loss to Virginia Commonwealth on Sept. 8 and a home draw against Old Dominion on Sept. 24. Last night, though, the Terps answered.

One second into the 70th minute, midfielder Alex Shinsky played a ball to forward Patrick Mullins in the left side of the 18-yard box. The defense collapsed on the senior, who slipped a pass back to midfielder Tsubasa Endoh. Endoh took one touch before he was taken down from behind, and the referee whistled a foul.

Mullins finished his ninth penalty kick goal of the season in as many attempts in the bottom left corner to give the Terps a one-goal advantage. Forward Jake Pace added an insurance goal in the 87th minute to lead the Terps to a 3-1 victory and a spot in the third round of the NCAA tournament, facing No. 12-seed UC Irvine at Ludwig Field on Dec. 1.

“Our response couldn’t have been better,” coach Sasho Cirovski said. “We raised it about three levels and created the penalty kick, and of course Patrick buried it. We stayed strong. That’s a good team, and they were fighting for their lives.”

The Terps struck first in the seventh minute. Mullins sent a pass down the left sideline to defender Michael Sauers, who dribbled around several Friars defenders before slotting a shot with the outside of his foot into the bottom right corner.

“A goal like that is crucial,” said Sauers, who scored the game-winning goal in overtime for the Terps against Clemson in the ACC tournament semifinals Nov. 15. “It gives us confidence.”

Mullins almost tallied again for the Terps about three minutes later. Midfielder Mikias Eticha found the forward on a long pass over the top of the Friars backline. Mullins was in a one-on-one situation with goalkeeper Keasel Broome — who made three saves in the match — but his chip bounced just wide of the cage.

After the Terps’ early chances, the Friars responded with consistent possession during the next 25 minutes of play. With 22 minutes remaining in the half, Mac Steeves had an open look to the left of the goal that he drilled right at goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who made two saves in the match.

The Terps came back with strong offensive pressure during the final 15 minutes of the half. Forward Schillo Tshuma cut a pass back to Eticha at the top of the six-yard box, but he put the shot over the crossbar.

With just more than five minutes remaining, defender Jereme Raley made a run down the right sideline before losing the ball about 20 yards from the goal. The redshirt junior collected the ball, though, slipping a pass through the Friars backline to Mullins, who curled a shot to the far post. Broome dove and knocked the attempt wide to keep the Terps’ 1-0 lead heading into halftime.

The Friars almost tied things up in the 49th minute when Julian Gressel volleyed a long cross off the near post. The ball bounced back across the middle of the box, but the Terps blocked and cleared Providence’s second chance. The Friars continued to pressure on both sides of the ball during the next 20 minutes before they equalized with 21:50 remaining in regulation.

“You’ve got to stay composed at all times; no matter what the score is, no matter how much time is left in the game, it’s not over,” Mullins said. “Everybody is fighting to the death out there.”

Mullins answered with the go-ahead goal just 50 seconds later. The Terps continued to pressure over the final 20 minutes of regulation, and Pace clinched the game for the Terps with 3:25 remaining. The fifth-year senior forced a turnover on the Friars backline, started on a breakaway and finished one-on-one against Broome to give the Terps a 3-1 lead they never relinquished.

“You saw a very composed group,” Cirovski said. “The coaches were fine, the players were fine and you could see immediately right off the first kick of the ball that we knew what to do. We just raised the concentration, the urgency, the quality.”

With the win, the Terps advance to the third round of the NCAA tournament for the 12th straight season. But more importantly, Cirovski said his young squad showed growth last night in how they responded to the Friars’ goal.

“Our team has been resilient all year,” Cirovski said. “And tonight, that moment after the goal was a special moment to show the character of our team.”

Terps note: Defender Suli Dainkeh — who anchors the Terps backline at center back — was a game-time decision with a foot injury he suffered on Thursday. Cirovski said the freshman was getting up to six treatments per day heading up to last night’s match but was still able to play a full 90 minutes yesterday.