When Maryland men’s soccer forward Justin Gielen headed a cross just wide of the net in the 51st minute, extending the Terps’ 300-plus minute stretch without a goal, it set off a dangerous counter-attack that snapped another streak — one the Terps were hoping to preserve.
While the Terps entered the match without a goal in their first three games of the season, they also hadn’t conceded one since the first half of the season opener at Washington.
Instead of Gielen helping end Maryland’s scoreless drought, UCLA forward Mohammed Kamara capitalized on his own header the very next minute after the Terps lost possession. He outjumped defender Ben Di Rosa and beat goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair to the far post.
“We tried to stop [Kamara] as much as possible and stop their attack from going through him,” defender Donovan Pines said. “We did it to an extent, but of course he just needs one chance and he broke free and that’s how he scored.”
The junior’s fourth goal of the season was the only goal in UCLA’s 1-0 victory Saturday at Ludwig Field, a game that was originally scheduled for Friday night but was postponed due to weather.
Four games into the season, Maryland (0-2-2) is still without a win — or a goal. While coach Sasho Cirovski believes his team’s first four opponents were all top-10 defenses in the nation, he’s considering making adjustments in the future.
“The result is disappointing and the performance, as well,” Cirovski said. “It’s something that now I think we have to look at whether we change our formation slightly or whether we change a few personnel.”
Even though the Terps maintained a majority of the possession, UCLA’s aggressive approach slowed down the game’s pace. The Bruins finished with 17 fouls, including three yellow cards. Maryland mustered just one shot in the first half and one shot on goal in the entire game, which Cirovski deemed “unacceptable.”
Senior Sebastian Elney was unavailable with an ankle injury he suffered during Maryland’s game Monday against Virginia. The forward was responsible for both game-winning goals against UCLA in the last three years, and his absence didn’t help an already struggling offense that now hasn’t scored in the first 400 minutes of the season.
Cirovski told reporters after the game that the timetable for Elney’s return is uncertain, but he will not play Monday’s game against West Virginia. The Terps will have just one day of rest before that contest.
Dating back to last season, Maryland hasn’t scored in over 572 minutes and have two goals in their last 10 games. Four the fourth straight game, though, Cirovski remained optimistic in his offense.
“We have to make sure we don’t lose too much confidence and recognize that we played some good opposition,” he said. “I think the goals will come.”
The only Maryland shot on goal against UCLA came in the 57th minute, when midfielder Eli Crognale’s sent a shot from just inside the box directly at goalkeeper Justin Garces.
Gielen replaced Elney in the starting lineup and logged 81 minutes in the loss. He registered only one shot, but it nearly gave the Terps their first lead of the season. When the Terps couldn’t settle back into their defense following the miss, UCLA took advantage, continuing Maryland’s worst start in more than 25 years.
With Maryland still without a goal, it extends the program record for games to start the season without a goal.
“Every game you’re not scoring, there’s less confidence,” defender Johannes Bergmann said. “Once we score, then I think we score a lot of goals.”