When Luke van Heukelum tapped in a bouncing ball past Navy goalie Pierce Holbrook, it gave Maryland the opening goal of the match in the second half.
The Terps quickly doubled their lead during the exhilarating start to the second half, but their two goals in four minutes were overshadowed by the result between Michigan State and Ohio State. The Buckeyes defeated the Spartans via a late goal, solidifying a last place finish in the Big Ten for the Terps with a game remaining in conference play.
Maryland defeated in-state foe Navy, 3-0, in its last regular season home match Tuesday night. The Buckeyes’ win prevents the Terps from qualifying for the Big Ten tournament and looks set to end a run of 22-straight NCAA tournament appearances — the second-longest active streak in the nation.
“I’ve never had a season end in October,” coach Sasho Cirovski said. “It’s very frustrating, but I’m very, very proud of the growth of our young players, and the way that we’ve gone throughout the season.”
Cirovski rotated his starting 11 ahead of Marryland’s last nonconference game of the season. The Terps began with a completely new back line, and only one regular starter in Kenny Quist-Therson appeared in the lineup.
“I’ve been in the leadership role for a couple of years now, and to wear the captain’s armband shows an extra level of faith that Sasho put in me,” redshirt junior Joe Suchecki said after leading his team out onto the field in the first half. “There’s been a lot of highs and lows … I’m proud of the relationships I’ve made here.”
The new mix of players found it difficult to create many chances, as Maryland (4-7-2, 0-5-2 Big Ten) primarily defended its goal instead of attacking Navy’s throughout the first half. The Terps’ first shot didn’t come until the 30th minute.
The Midshipmen (5-7-4) began on the front foot, creating the first five shots of the match in the opening 20 minutes.
Midfielder Cristian Coelho received a pass at the top of the box with space in front of him. Coelho stepped into a shot, looking to curl an effort into the top corner. Instead, he sliced the shot, sending the ball sailing away from goal. Similar to Coelho, A.J. Scheutz attempted to pick out the top right corner with a bending shot in the 29th minute.
Schuetz’s shots was closer than Coelho’s, but still too high and over the crossbar.
Navy didn’t force Maryland freshman goalie Saxon Wolcott, who made his first collegiate start, to make any big saves. That changed in the 37th minute.
Andrew Schug drove into the box from the left side of the pitch. Instead of passing the ball back into the box, he fired a shot low toward the near post. Without Wolcott’s hand to parry the ball away, Schug would have broken the deadlock.
Navy outshot Maryland 8-2 in the first half, and both of the Terps’ attempts flew off frame.
The Terps made changes and deployed most of their usual starting lineup to begin the second half. But it took just nine minutes after the restart for van Heukelum to notch Maryland’s first goal.
Four minutes later, Max Riley added a second.
Kimani Stewart-Baynes caused havoc on the left side of the field. He received a pass in his stride from van Heukelum and dribbled towards goal. Instead of shooting on this occasion, he passed.
Stewart-Baynes picked out his fellow forward in Riley, who took one touch before placing a shot into the bottom corner to double the Terps’ lead in the 58th minute.
Riley added his second of the night in the 77th minute. Stefan Copetti won a Leon Koehl corner, sending a header on goal. Holbrook made a save, but tipped the ball onto the foot of Riley. He finished into the empty net to put Maryland ahead, 3-0.
“It’s always good to score … it’s been a long time coming,” Riley said.
The Terps claimed their fourth victory of the season, but will miss out on the Big Ten tournament for the first time in program history and almost certainly end their run of 22 consecutive NCAA tournament appearances. Maryland concludes its season on Sunday at Ohio State, the team that sealed its last-place finish in the conference standings.
“We’re not far, and we’re going to continue to evaluate and build, and be ready for Sunday,” Cirovski said.