Sept. 5, 2003
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Maryland's second-ranked men's soccer team knocked off top-ranked UCLA, 1-0, in front of a record 6,143 fans at Ludwig Field Friday night. Junior forward Abe Thompson converted on a penalty kick in the 56th minute of play for the game's decisive goal.
The rematch of the 2002 College Cup lived up to expectations despite soggy conditions that led to some to some inconsistent play early on by the top nation's top ranked teams. The two teams also came out with a lot of emotion that also led to a tentative first half.
"The game itself was highly competitive and combative at times," head coach Sasho Cirovski said. "I thought the conditions tonight made it tough for both teams to play with a lot of skill. It was going to be a situation where opportunism was going to win out, and we were able to take advantage of the penalty kick call."
Maryland didn't get off to a great start, but managed to limit UCLA's offensive opportunities as they tried to find their rhythm. Adding to Maryland's trouble was the loss of All-American Sumed Ibrahim in the game's eighth minute to a sprained ankle. Despite being outshot 7-4 in the first half, none of the Bruins shots challenged Terp goalkeeper Noah Palmer.
The best scoring opportunity for either team came with five minutes remaining to play when Chad Barrett broke free inside the box, but his shot from 15 yards out sailed wide of the goal.
The Terrapins came out in the second half and applied intense pressure on the Bruin defense in the first 10 minutes. Ian Rodway had a good look from in the box that floated high, and Thompson slid past defenders on the right side but his shot hit the post.
"I thought the second half, particularly, we increased our work rate and our confidence grew and we created a lot more chances and put them on the defensive," Cirovski said.
The pressure finally paid off when a hand ball foul was called on UCLA's Tony Lawson after a throw-in by the Terps. Thompson was awarded a penalty kick and got the shot past Bruin keeper Zach Wells.
Play began to get more physical as the game wore on. Forward Matt Taylor was ejected after a tough tackle and pushing and shoving ensued. The teams again traded some rough fouls in the final minutes and had to be separated at times.
"I think they were a little frustrated that we had control of the game and that we got our goal on a penalty kick," senior defender Seth Stammler said. "There's always going to be a rivalry between the two teams so I think every game from here on out will be intense."
The Terp defense was able to keep the UCLA offense in check throughout the second half. UCLA's lone shot on goal came in the 66th minute off the foot of Adolfo Gregorio. Maryland ended the match with a 13-12 advantage in shots, but the Terps managed a 6-1 advantage on shots on goal.
"The event was phenomenal," Cirovski said of the environment at Ludwig. "This was a vision I've had for this program and it probably even exceeded that. With this crowd you would've thought you were in the middle of a Duke-Maryland basketball game or a Maryland-Florida State football game. That kind of support from the students and from the soccer community was even beyond my expectations. It was the most wonderful night since I've been a coach here as far as atmosphere."
The Terps will be back in action on Sunday as they face American at 2:30 p.m. Virginia and UCLA will square off at noon as the fourth annual Maryland/adidas Soccer Classic wraps up.