On a night that featured a barrage of shots by the Maryland men’s soccer offense, High Point held on to its shutout by a string.
The Terps needed something that didn’t reflect the stat sheet. They needed a bit of luck.
Springing into action after a failed chance bounced off a defender, forward Justin Gielen nailed an unlikely shot into the net for what turned out to be the game-winning goal.
“As a forward, by nature I started salivating,” Gielen said. “[I wanted] to get there as quickly as possible.”
Capitalizing off two unlikely shots, the Terps rolled over High Point, 2-0, to improve to 5-0 at Ludwig Field this season.
High Point provided steady defense against Maryland’s early advances, including a point-blank block of a hard Joshua Bolma shot. The Panthers proved fearsome when Maryland infiltrated their box on multiple occasions and forced the Terps’ offense into wild shots.
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Forward Hunter George had the best chance of the night when he posted up on the right side of the goal and slotted a shot into the left side that was saved by the goalkeeper’s outstretched hands.
The Terps needed something unorthodox to get on the board, and they got it.
The newly-substituted Gielen stood at the ready on the right half of the pitch, but looked as if he wasn’t involved much in the play. A Brayan Padilla shot attempt that bounced off a defender resulted in the aforementioned Gielen goal that put the Terps ahead 1-0 in the first half.
The goal came in a first half that featured nine Maryland shots and zero for High Point.
“The back five did a pretty good job of holding them back,” defender Alex Nitzl said. “That’s very good and something to build on.”
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While the scoreboard didn’t properly represent the domination displayed by the Terps, it was felt as shot after shot whizzed through the air near the High Point net. However, he one-point lead remained tenuous, and a mid-second half save by Jamie Lowell proved so.
“I was disappointed by our performance in the final third,” Cirovski said. “I thought this game we should have had much more than two goals.”
All High Point needed was one shot to erase the Terps’ lead.
That threat compounded as Jamie Lowell walked gingerly off the field with an apparent injury with 24 minutes left on the clock. Niklas Neumann took his place and was tasked with closing out the game for Maryland.
Since both keepers had been rotating on a game-to-game basis, it wasn’t an unusual task for Neumann. But High Point put ample pressure on Neumann with several shots on goal against the new keeper.
“Niklas is an extremely talented goalkeeper so there’s no drop off there,” Cirovski said. “I thought he was in very good control.”
High Point didn’t bury one on Neumann; but they did on the other end of the pitch.
A Panther defender looking to clear the ball from their zone accidentally launched it into an empty goal with less than nine minutes to play. The mishap put Maryland ahead for good, as they captured the shutout victory.