One player remained on the field when Maryland men’s soccer jogged off toward the locker room at halftime.
Max Riley sprinted up and down the Terps’ sideline, preparing to feature for the first time all game after a scoreless first half between Maryland and Ohio State.
“[Cirovski] just told me five minutes before the first half ended, ‘You could start in the second half, get yourself warmed, get ready to make an impact,’” Riley said.
The freshman forward latched onto a Joshua Bolma pass in the 56th minute and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom left corner to notch his first career goal and give the Terps the lead.
His finish helped power No. 9 Maryland past an undefeated No. 13 Ohio State to notch the Terps’ second Big Ten win of the season, 1-0.
“Max Riley was the inspiration today, came in and gave us good work on both sides of the ball,” coach Sasho Cirovski said. “He battled defensively but he also held the ball and got involved in the attack.”
Maryland registered its first clean sheet of the season after conceding goals in seven-straight games to begin the year.
Neither team could create chances at the beginning of the game, trading weak shots on target in the 20th and 21st minute.
Cirovski made adjustments in the midfield early on and moved Bolma and Malcolm Johnston to the center of the field as two attacking midfielders and made Alex Nitzl a lone defensive midfielder in an effort to win the battle in the center of the pitch.
“Xavier Green really dropped in the midfield and it was locked up, so it was three against two,” Cirovski said. “We made sure it was three against three and I thought when we did that, we turned the tide a little bit more.”
[Maryland men’s soccer couldn’t overcome defensive lapses in Penn State draw]
Stefan Copetti entered the game in the 30th minute and almost opened the scoring 30 seconds later. The forward won a header before receiving a pass from Colin Griffith and smashing a half-volley off the near post.
The chance would be the closest either side came to scoring in the opening 45 minutes, as each team notched just one shot on target at halftime.
The Terps struggled to create chances and hold possession further up the field in the first half. Maryland notched only 37 percent of its total possession in its attacking half of the field and struggled to connect on long passes up the pitch.
However, one of those direct balls finally helped the Terps break through in the 56th minute. Nitzl’s lofted pass beat two defenders and sent Bolma surging through the Buckeyes’ back line.
The redshirt sophomore squared the ball to Riley, who took a touch before he found the back of the net and trotted toward the corner flag to celebrate his first collegiate goal. He stayed on for almost the entire second half and was only subbed off in the 84th minute.
[Maryland men’s soccer and Penn State trade late penalty kicks in 3-3 draw]
Copetti came close to quickly doubling Maryland’s lead, but flashed an opportunity from a Johnston cross over the top of the net.
Both teams settled once again after a flurry of chances for the Terps, with neither side registering another shot on target for the rest of the match.
Ohio State was able to push forward toward the end of the game, notching four corner kicks in the final 12 minutes to add to its total of seven.
The Buckeyes weren’t able to find the back of the net, however, succumbing to their first loss of the season. Riley’s goal and Maryland’s first shutout of the year came at a crucial moment, lifting the Terps over a top-15 opponent in Ohio State.
“[Cirovski] always says that everybody should be ready for their time,” Bolma said. “[Riley] was ready. He came in and was a big part of the win.”