After Maryland men’s soccer scored its second goal of the night, it quickly set itself up to threaten again. Following an Indiana deflection that went over the end line, the Terps positioned themselves for a corner kick.
Midfielder Eli Crognale kicked short, then received a return pass and whipped a cross into the box. Defender Johannes Bergmann found himself with space and time to leap and match the header for Maryland’s second goal in just over a minute.
Bergmann’s tally capped off coach Sasho Cirovski’s highest-scoring — and most-complete — first half of the season, which No. 25 Maryland used to cruise to a 3-0 victory over the No. 6 Hoosiers on Friday night at Ludwig Field.
“It was an amazing feeling to get three goals in the first half,” Crognale said. “And then just dominate them from the get-go and it didn’t stop.”
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The Terps (7-4-2, 2-1-2) poured in three goals in a matter of 14 minutes in the first half, using a variety of methods to best the Hoosiers (8-2-3, 4-1) — a fortuitous bounce, a stealth counter-attack and a set piece off a corner kick.
It began with defender Ben Di Rosa taking a chance on a driven pass into a mass of attackers and defenders in the box in the 15th minute. Forward Malcolm Johnston flicked the pass into the air before the ball deflected to midfielder David Kovacic at the doorstep. The freshman calmly slotted home the opportunistic goal to give the Terps the lead.
“It was crucial,” Crognale said of Kovacic’s goal. “It wasn’t necessarily a pretty goal, we weren’t really expecting it. And when it went in, it just brought us tons of energy and helped propel us to the second and third goal.”
Thirteen minutes later, Johnston worked hard at midfield to earn possession, igniting Maryland’s counterattack.
After watching Georgetown execute a well-connected buildup on a counterattack on Monday, Maryland showed its ability to progress up the field with fluidity and cohesion Friday to create a prime chance.
[Read more: Through quick counterattacks, Georgetown poked holes in Maryland men’s soccer’s defense]
Forward Justin Gielen received a pass and advanced up the field before laying a pass off to Johnston, who looked up and noticed a wide-open Eric Matzelevich at the edge of the box. The freshman threaded a lead pass into the box to help secure Matzelevich’s team-leading fourth goal of the season.
“I’d say my confidence is up there,” Matzelevich said. “I credit it a lot to the players who were here last year, and also how they left. So obviously when players of that nature leave, people have to step up. … Personally, I wanted to step up and really put a stamp on this year.”
Just a minute later, it was Crognale finding Bergmann for his first career goal.
Bergmann’s score was made all the more meaningful with the fact that his parents were in the stands for just the second time in his college career, with Monday night’s loss to Georgetown being the other.
“It feels unbelievable. Especially tonight, my parents were here,” Bergmann said. “Goals are always nice, but especially [because] it was my first goal here at Maryland.”
Maryland’s last win over Indiana came in the 2018 NCAA semifinals, when the Terps knocked the Hoosiers out of the tournament with a 2-0 victory.
And in the first 10 minutes, Indiana seemed intent on exacting revenge, dominating possession in the opening half and getting deep into Maryland’s defensive third. But between a patient Hoosiers attack and a menacing Terps backline, the visitors’ early possession advantage yielded just one shot.
“They put a lot of pressure on us,” Bergmann said. “But I think we overcame it pretty good. We were blocking a lot of shots, we were defending very hard.”
With the defense doing its part, momentum was up for grabs. And once Maryland seized it, the Terps didn’t relent in front of an announced attendance of 4,888, the largest crowd at Ludwig Field this season.
Cirovski’s defense survived four close calls from the Hoosiers in the second half, as shots sailed just outside the frame. With the shutout, the Terps posted their seventh clean sheet of the season, while also handing Indiana its first regular-season Big Ten loss since Oct. 10, 2015.
Around this time in the calendar last season, Cirovski’s team hosted No. 7 Denver and earned a 1-0 upset, which the players and the 27th-year coach alluded to as the turning point of a 2018 season that saw them take home a championship.
This season, there’s hope that this win can do the same.
“Overall, a lot of growth,” Cirovski said. “Hopefully this is the momentum game that we need for this group, for this year.”