With the game still scoreless in the 75th minute of Maryland men’s soccer’s visit to Ohio State on Friday, Terps coach Sasho Cirovski took midfielder Eryk Williamson off the field.
Cirovski then pulled aside Williamson and forward Sebastian Elney — another starter — on the sideline for a conversation.
“I need you guys to go in and find a way to get this goal,” Cirovski told the juniors.
The duo re-entered in the 83rd minute, and less than two minutes later, Elney made a point-blank shot for his fourth score of the year, surpassing his goal total from last season.
“He just has ice in his veins,” Williamson said. “He loves scoring game winners.”
Friday’s 85th-minute breakthrough was Elney’s second late winner of the season and third of his career. The Terps beat UCLA with his overtime goal as a freshman, and he repeated that feat early in this season.
Williamson had said Elney “is kind of just there whenever we need him to score a goal.”
So, when Cirovski talked to the two starters on the sideline, his instructions weren’t particularly detailed. He knew he could trust them to convert.
“Focus on the next few minutes,” Cirovski said. “We need you to do what you guys do.”
For Elney, that meant positioning himself in front of the goal. After all, each of his scores this year has come from within eight yards.
“It’s just something in his nature,” Williamson said of Elney’s timing. “It’s nothing you can practice.”
Elney couldn’t explain his knack for dramatics during his career at Maryland. The Boca Raton, Florida, native said he doesn’t change anything late in games.
Williamson, though, pointed to Elney’s composure, and Cirovski highlighted his competitiveness.
Last season, Elney picked up three scores and five assists, a dip in production after his seven-goal, two-assist rookie campaign.
But despite the sophomore slump, he said he never became frustrated.
“We were winning,” Elney said. “Can’t be so unhappy when you’re undefeated.”
This year, Elney has returned to form, and Cirovski lauded the junior for his improvements.
“He’s just getting into better spots, reading the game a little faster and being rewarded for it,” Cirovski said. “He’s getting some results now.”
Gordon Wild, who transferred from USC Upstate, “stole the spotlight” in 2016, Williamson said. He managed last year’s scoring brunt with a country-leading 17 goals.
But as the Terps aim for another undefeated regular season and a better finish than their second-round NCAA tournament loss, Elney has again helped power the team’s offensive hopes.
“[Elney’s] always been the one to be able to [score] these game-winning goals,” Williamson said. “He’s always been there for us.”