Forward Mike Heitzmann picked the right time and moment.
When Maryland soccer needed a playmaker to step forward, Nick Richardson answered the call. The redshirt sophomore fed Heitzmann in the 15th minute of the Terps’ contest at Michigan, and he dutifully converted, giving the away side a 1-0 lead.
And that proved to be the starting point of a successful afternoon. Maryland soccer overcame the Wolverines in a tough away test, defeating Michigan 2-1 Thursday afternoon.
Maryland spent most of the game on the front foot, and built up a 2-0 lead. But a 73rd minute goal from Jackson Ragen made for a tense final proceedings. Still, the Terps saw off their opponents, and picked up their second win of the season.
“I am ecstatic with the result against a good Michigan team. Our guys are starting to feel their connectivity and it is showing in our play on both sides of the ball,” coach Sasho Cirovski said.
When Michigan goalkeeper Owen Finnerty was sent off with a red card in the 8th minute, the game changed for Maryland.
In the 15th minute, Heitzmann delivered on that advantage for the Terps, scoring his first goal of the season to put the Terps up 1-0 off a nice feed from midfielder Nick Richardson.
Heitzmann’s goal exorcised the ghosts of a 5th minute penalty miss from Joe Suchecki, whose attempt was saved by Finnerty. It was the Terps’ second penalty miss of the year.
Cirovski fielded a similar starting lineup to Maryland’s 1-0 win over Wisconsin last Sunday, playing four midfielders and two forwards. However, sophomore Justin Harris slid in for an absent Malcolm Johnston. Furthermore, the Terps benefitted from the return of senior captain Eric Matzelevich, who enjoyed a lively few minutes.
The first 15 minutes was about as perfect as Maryland could have asked for on the road against one of the better sides in the Big Ten.
But the Terps’ defense was as advertised in their last game, only allowing two shots on goal in the first period. Michigan’s best chance came in the 16th minute when Midfielder Harrison Pithers fired a shot towards goal. But it was no problem for Terps goalkeeper Niklas Neumann, who sent it harmlessly over the bar for a Wolverines corner kick that was quickly cleared away by the Terps defense.
And the two sides entered the break with Maryland leading 1-0.
In the second period the Terps again started off hot, being active in the Michigan box with a few early chances on goal from forward Jacen Russell-Rowe in the 46th minute and 49th minute. Russell-Rowe’s first attempt on goal was turned away by goalkeeper Ethan Wood — who came in when Finnerty was sent off. Three minutes later, his second attempt sailed over the bar but continued the Maryland momentum.
Maryland continued to push its advantage for the next 20 minutes. Justin Harris had an attempt on goal, and the Terps continued to attack.
And then, a crucial second.
Nick Richardson found Paul Bin with an assist, and the redshirt senior winger converted for his first goal of the year — and first since October 2018.
“To see our seniors in Mike and Paul score was a reward for their effort throughout the match,” Cirovski said.
With a 2-0 lead, the Terps seemed to have the game under control, and a crucial away victory ensured. However, the home side clawed its way back into the game. In the 73rd minute, Ragen nodded in off a corner kick — bringing Michigan within one, and ensuring a tight last 20 minutes.
However, Maryland’s defense proved to be equal to a late Wolverines push. Marc Ybara missed a shot, Neumann diverted another from Kevin Buca. And the Terps held on, turning in a solid performance on both ends for their second win in a row.
“We benefited from the Michigan red card, but credit Michigan with a tremendous effort until the last minute,” Cirovski said.