Maryland men’s soccer was held without a goal for the first three halves of its season.
After recording just two shots against Missouri State on Thursday, the Terps put four of their six first half shots on target against UNC Greensboro, but had no goal to show for.
That changed in the 65th minute. Joe Suchecki found space at the top of the box after receiving a pass from Kimani Stewart-Baynes and took one dribble towards goal before unleashing a strike that nestled in the bottom corner.
The midfielder’s goal proved to be the difference as No. 14 Maryland (1-1) defeated No. 10 UNC Greensboro (0-1-1) on Sunday, 2-0.
“Delighted with the performance of the team tonight,” coach Sasho Cirovski said. “We challenged them to respond after Thursday’s performance and result, and the guys came through.”
The Terps started on the front foot and were almost rewarded for their positive play in the ninth minute.
A bouncing ball after a Luca Costabile cross created havoc for the Spartans’ backline. Copetti found himself alone at the back post, staring down Mathias Balle in goal for UNC Greensboro. Balle flexed out his left leg to deny the Terp forward’s low shot.
Ten minutes later, it was Luke Van Heukelum who almost notched the opening goal.
Kento Abe served up a cross destined for Van Heukelum, who made a darting run toward goal and met the lofted ball with his head. But Balle raised his left hand and stretched to deny the freshman of his first collegiate goal.
Cirovski experimented with different personnel in attack for the Terps, opting to start Copetti, Van Heukelum and Stewart-Baynes up top. Midway through the first half, Colin Griffith, Max Riley and Justin Harris were subbed in looking to break the deadlock.
Griffith came the closest to scoring of the new group of forwards. The sophomore cut inside towards goal from the left, but propelled his effort over the bar.
Maryland outshot UNC Greensboro, 6-4, in the first half, with four of the Terps’ efforts finding the target.
The Terps and Spartans traded half-chances to start the second half before UNC Greensboro came close to finding a breakthrough.
Basile Marc drifted away from Maryland defender William Kulvik in the penalty box and was slotted through on goal. Goalkeeper Mikah Seger quickly got down to his right and pawed Marc’s shot away from danger.
And then Suchecki stepped up.
Stewart-Baynes slowed down the play, allowing for Suchecki to drift into open space at the top of UNC Greensboro’s box. Suchecki received a pinpoint pass from Stewart-Baynes and used the space provided to him to good effect.
The midfielder took one dribble to his left before putting his laces through the ball, unleashing a powerful strike that gave Maryland its first goal of the season and the lead.
“I thought, ‘You just have to stay calm, just focus on the form. Just focus on the little thing because if you focus on every small detail, the big picture will take care of itself,’” Suchecki said.
But the Terps weren’t done. Copetti drove to the goal line and sent a looping ball towards Griffith in the center of the box. Balle palmed Griffith’s header away, but only as far as Stewart-Baynes.
Stewart-Baynes took two touches to settle the ball before smashing his first collegiate finish and Maryland’s second goal into the back of the net to double the Terps’ advantage.
“I said to myself, ‘When I get out there, I’m going to score,’” Stewart-Baynes said. “I just had to be composed and just finish it.”
Maryland held firm for the rest of the match, keeping its first clean sheet of the season in its first victory of 2023.