After a foul call in the 57th minute of Maryland men’s soccer’s game at Wisconsin last week, the ball bounced near frustrated Terps forward Gordon Wild. He slapped it to the ground.
Just a minute earlier, the junior screamed at himself for failing to control a cross at the far post and sending an errant shot out for a goal kick. He finished the game without a score, marking his seventh consecutive appearance without a goal.
Wild’s skid reached eight games in a 1-0 loss to Georgetown on Tuesday.
“I will score again,” Wild said earlier this week. “You have to keep patience, keep on working hard and then everything will come.”
Wild will continue his search for a breakthrough Friday against Coastal Carolina.
Last year, Wild never went more than two games without a goal. He finished tied for second in the country with 17 goals and was named a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, given annually to the nation’s most outstanding player.
That exceeded his 16-goal freshman year at USC Upstate, a mark that tied for the most in the country and included just one three-game scoring drought.
The German’s pedigree earned him a spot on this year’s preseason MAC Hermann Trophy watch list. He was expected to lead a high-powered Terps offense that returned all its starting attackers.
Instead, with three games left, Wild’s scored just five times this season and hasn’t converted since his two-goal performance against Rutgers on Sept. 12.
“As a striker, you always want to score. I would be lying if I [said] I don’t want to score,” Wild said. “As long as we’re winning and as long as we’re playing well and … I’m playing well, [that’s] the most important thing.”
Coach Sasho Cirovski has pleaded for Maryland’s offense to improve its production throughout this season. The Terps have controlled possession in nearly all of their games and rank fourth in the country with 7.79 shots on goal per game, but are tied for 18th with 2.0 goals per game.
“We need to get our good players executing at a higher level,” Cirovski said after Maryland failed to score with any of its 12 shots against Georgetown.
Still, the Terps went undefeated through their first 13 games, were ranked No. 3 before their loss to the Hoyas and are in contention for the Big Ten title.
Midfielder Eryk Williamson leads the team with six goals — doubling his output from last year — and forward Sebastian Elney and midfielder Jake Rozhansky (four goals each) have also surpassed their 2016 scoring totals.
The team believes Wild’s quiet year is related to those upticks in scoring.
“A lot of the teams are trying to sort of focus [on] me,” Wild said. “We’re just really exploiting that very well. Those guys are playing very well at the moment.”
Georgetown coach Brian Wiese echoed that sentiment.
“You can’t focus on one guy,” Wiese said. “You take away one guy, you’re giving something else. … They’ve got five, six pieces, any one of which are game winners.”
Nobody expects Wild’s struggles to continue. Entering the Georgetown game, Cirovski said Wild had “been close” in the previous few games and said there’s “no question in my mind” things would turn around. Wild guaranteed he would score again this year.
“He’s too good of a player to have that last,” Wiese said. “I’m quite happy he didn’t break out of it tonight, from our point of view.”
But for more than a month now, each Terps opponent has felt that same sense of relief.