Nov. 25, 2008
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - It took a combination of youth and experience Tuesday night as freshman Casey Townsend and senior Graham Zusi each netted goals to lift the Maryland men's soccer team over George Mason, 2-0, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Ludwig Field.
Maryland initially got on the scoreboard at 21:16 when Doug Rodkey chipped a ball into Jason Herrick who served a through ball to Townsend. The forward from Traverse City, Michigan then split a pair of Patriot defenders and beat the keeper for a 1-0 Terrapin lead. It is the fourth-straight game the Terps have scored first and Townsend's 11th goal of the 2008 campaign.
The Terps didn't lay off on their attack, however, continuing to apply offensive pressure at-will. In the game's 24th minute, Maryland put together another dangerous run when Jeremy Hall passed a ball to Rodney Wallace who tapped it to Rodkey for a solid header that went just wide on the near side of the field.
Graham Zusi gave Maryland the go-ahead score just before the half at 42:28 after heading home a goal to the near post off a serve from Hall in the middle of the field. The midfielder now has four goals on the year, including three in the last six games.
After leaving halftime with, what Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski referred to as, `a spring in their step', the Terps continued to be the aggressor, tallying nine more shots in the period. Boasting a two-goal lead for the first time since Halloween night at Virginia, Maryland maintained possession throughout the final 45 minutes, while the defense and midfield shunned any chance of a George Mason rally. The Patriots end their season at 14-7-2 while Maryland improved to 19-3-0.
Freshman keeper Zac MacMath secured his 15th consecutive win this season and potentially awaits the only squad to feed the rookie a loss this season should California defeat UC-Santa Barbara later Friday evening in second-round action on the West Coast.
Following the win, Maryland moves its nation-long streak to seven seasons as a seeded team to make it through to the third round of the NCAA Tournament. The victory was the Maryland men's soccer program's 35th all-time in NCAA postseason history and its 12th straight in 2008. There is no place like Ludwig Field for the squad in postseason action, as the Terps pushed their record to 17-6-3 at the facility in its 13-year history.
"I am very pleased with the way we played," Cirovksi, who is in his 14th NCAA postseason appearance at the helm of the Maryland program, said. "George Mason is a very good team and a very hot team and I think that second goal before halftime really took the wind out of their sails and it was a very important goal for us...I am real happy to get the first win under our belt."
Up Next: Following Tuesday's victory over George Mason, Maryland advances to the tournament's third round to take on California at 1 p.m. Saturday at Ludwig Field. The Golden Bears, who bested the Terps, 1-0, during regular-season action on Aug. 31, moved on by virtue of their 3-2 overtime win over UC Santa Barbara. The winner of Saturday's showdown between Maryland and Cal advances to the quarterfinals.