Maryland men’s soccer’s Malcolm Johnston facilitated a quick pass to a streaking Justin Harris. Harris stopped the ball, took a quick cut to the right and shot.
The ball bounced and fluttered into the left side of the goal, untouched. Harris jogged to the left corner of the pitch, almost aimlessly as his teammates swarmed him.
In his third year as a Terp, he did something he hadn’t done before: He netted. Harris’ goal came in his 35th career game played, only his third shot on goal in his career.
“It felt great,” Harris said. “I honestly didn’t know what to do when it went in, just went with the motion.”
Harris scored what would be the winner in the 63rd minute and capped off Maryland’s first conference win of the season over Michigan, 2-1.
The junior comes from the Baltimore Celtic pipeline that currently has five players on the Terps’ roster. Harris mainly hasn’t been able to play because of the stable string of able underclassmen that man the forward position for Maryland.
“He’s been such an important player over the last couple of years for us and this year just hasn’t gotten a minute because we’ve had so much other quality,” coach Sasho Cirovski said. “[I] always ask them to be ready for your moment, and tonight he was ready for his moment.”
Harris became the ninth player for Cirovski’s club to score a goal this season as Maryland leads the Big Ten in goals per game and players scored.
While Maryland has created plenty of success spreading the ball around so far, one player hasn’t managed to reap the benefits of that — Hunter George. The transfer has one assist, and nine shots with four on goal so far. George is the only non-defender with over 200 minutes to fail to score a goal yet this season.
According to Cirovski, he’s close to achieving that milestone.
“It’s coming, he’s been hampered by a few little nagging injuries, but I thought tonight was the first time he felt as close to 100 percent,” Cirovski said. “His best is yet to come.”
The Terps have been the best in the Big Ten at spreading the ball around, and that largely comes to how Cirovski has played his squad. Five players have started every game while the midfielder and forward positions have rotated heavily.
Forwards Jacen Russell-Rowe, Caden Stafford and Brayan Padilla have contributed a trio of goals along with 12 shots on goal between them despite starting half or less games this season.
While it seems fair to infer the heavy rotation may be something that may stop with important conference play on the horizon, it’s done the trick so far.
Maryland will face High Point at Ludwig Field Monday in one of their four remaining non-conference games. High Point went 12-2 in the 2021 spring season before losing to Georgetown in the NCAA tournament, but have struggled in their nonconference slate, going 2-3.