Max Riley tracked a floating cross into the box during the first half of Maryland men’s soccer’s match against Penn State. A window of opportunity opened for the forward to strike the ball first-time on a volley, but he opted to take a touch before shooting.
The extra touch allowed Penn State defenders to get back into position, ultimately blocking the shot. Failed chances like Riley’s doomed the Terps against the Nittany Lions, as Maryland squandered multiple scoring chances in a 1-0 loss.
“It was a bit more of the same where we’d play well enough to get a result, but we just can’t seem to finish off a chance,” coach Sasho Cirovski said.
Maryland outshot Penn State in the first half, 3-2. The Terps’ first effort on goal came in the opening 15 minutes of the match from Luca Costabile.
Cameron Gerber swung in a corner kick into the box that the Nittany Lions’ defense cleared. Maryland regained possession after the corner, and Leon Koehl laid off a pass to Costabile at the top of the box. The fullback attempted to pick out the bottom corner, but Penn State goalkeeper Kris Shakes denied him.
Penn State capitalized on a Maryland defensive mistake late in the first half, taking a one goal lead into the locker room.
“We just need to start making some plays,” Cirovski said. “And it’s something we’re going to continue to work on and continue to develop those relationships.”
Shaky offense has been a theme for Maryland through six games. The Terps’ .83 average goals per game are tied for 174th in Division I. Riley and his fellow forwards know improving that mark starts with them, and it appeared it would in the second half Tuesday as Maryland stared down its first conference loss since 2021.
Koehl received the ball in the midfield and turned towards goal. He located Riley, who was running away from the goal and towards Koehl to make himself available for a pass. Riley touched the ball softly with the outside of his foot, playing Stefan Copetti in on goal.
Copetti dribbled towards Shakes, one-on-one with the outrushing goalie. He took one final touch and shot. But Copetti shot right down the middle instead of picking out a vacant corner of the net. Shakes made the save to keep Maryland scoreless.
“I think it comes from the whole team to start with, especially in games like this where we have a lot of the ball,” Riley said. “We just got to grow and practice, build those relationships up front.”
Maryland pressured the Penn State goal as the final minutes ticked away, but the Terps wasted two more attempts.
Riley stood over a free kick right outside of the box after Luke van Heukelum was fouled. Riley sent an outswinging cross into the area, looking for Copetti or another Maryland player. But Riley overhit his cross, missing Copetti and the rest of the Maryland attackers who eyed the opportunity to head home a game-tying goal.
Then Riley had another opportunity to score.
The Terps launched the ball forward with less than a minute left. Forward Kimani Stewart-Baynes passed to Riley, who took a touch before sending a looping shot toward goal. It sailed over the crossbar.
“We definitely had a couple of those chances tonight,” Riley said. “But it also comes from the whole team getting the ball up to us. Building from the back to the front to get us in those positions to score, and it just didn’t happen for us.”