At midfield of the near sideline of Retriever Soccer Park, UMBC students in gold and black T-shirts bounced on bleachers, waved flags and let Maryland men’s soccer players know when they were no good. Thirty yards away, a glut of Terps fans in red and white sounded their familiar chants and stood where there was no seating available.
If you squinted hard enough Tuesday night, it looked like the early stages of a flash mob that would end with the Calvert and Crossland coats of arms reproduced for the delight of a record announced sellout crowd of 3,766. It was a memorable atmosphere for a memorable game between the state’s top programs, as their first meeting since 2014 ended with a 1-1 draw.
No. 3 Maryland (6-0-3) moved its unbeaten streak to 27 straight games with its second straight tie and third overall, more than the Terps had all last season. The Retrievers (5-2-2) improved to 1-0-2 in their past three games against Maryland, which they knocked out of the NCAA tournament three years ago in College Park.
“I would say it, no matter what the result: For me, the state of soccer in Maryland won the game,” UMBC coach Pete Caringi Jr. said. “What an atmosphere, a lot of local kids, and we showed the community and showed the country what Maryland has to offer.”
Twenty minutes of overtime could not separate two teams featuring local players intimately familiar with one another, many having played together in high school or on travel teams. Maryland should’ve ended the game with a plum chance in the first extra period. UMBC had two good cracks at it in the second 10 minutes.
Appropriately, though, the two scorers in the game were Marylanders. Less than 10 minutes into the second half, after seeing chance after chance missed or mishandled, the Terps took the lead with an unlikely scorer.
Donovan Pines (River Hill), a towering 6-foot-5 sophomore defender, extended his spindly right leg near the edge of the 6-yard box, desperate to make contact with a ball crossed in by forward Gordon Wild and deflected to him by midfielder Jake Rozhansky. The pass found his laces, bounced once and ended in the side netting, not a Retrievers defender in the crowded box within 4 yards of Pines’ first career goal.
“I think we needed to get that second one,” coach Sasho Cirovski lamented afterward, because the lead was short-lived.
In the 60th minute, UMBC midfielder Sammy Kahsai looped a ball in from just outside the box. The ball was too far for Pines to reach, too far for goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair to handle, but just close enough for Retrievers midfielder Gregg Hauck (North County) to tap past an onrushing St. Clair with a diving effort.
It was the first goal the Terps had conceded in 567 minutes, a stretch of five-plus straight shutouts.
“I just had to get a touch on it,” Hauck said. “Honestly, at that moment, it’s just instinct.”
The game soon tilted Maryland’s way again, with the guests controlling possession in the middle third and UMBC content to counter whenever possible. Terps defender Ben Di Rosa’s diving run to the box from the right wing ended with a shot kissed off the crossbar. Wild’s free-kick effort from 24 yards was punched over for one of Maryland’s eight second-half corner kicks. But that was it before overtime beckoned and the tension mounted higher still.
Before the game, Caringi had said the night would be a showcase for the state’s talent. The starting lineups bore that out: Nine of the 22 players on the field for the opening whistle played for or attended a Maryland high school, from Baltimore’s Archbishop Curley (UMBC’s Tre Pulliam) to Montgomery Blair in Silver Spring (Maryland’s Rozhansky).
Watching them from the stands, and filling the hill behind the bleachers, were soccer fans of every stripe, size and club. The McDonogh boys soccer team showed up. So did Division III Stevenson. Kids in youth league jerseys ran around the stadium complex and parking lot an hour before kickoff. Christos FC, the amateur team sponsored by a Ferndale liqour store that made a Cinderella run through the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup this summer, was honored at halftime.
For stretches in the first half, Maryland looked like the team expected to make a run of its own — to a comfortable night in Catonsville, to its first College Cup appearance since 2013.
Fifteen minutes in, defender George Campbell (McDonogh) whipped an inch-perfect cross into the box from the right wing. Wild, the Big Ten Conference’s leading scorer and a preseason All-American, sprang off his feet to meet the ball with his forehead. The header skipped off the crossbar and back down to the goal line, missing by just inches.
That seemed to set the stage for another 95 minutes of similar drama.
“I really felt like it’s coming, it’s coming, but tonight, that was a day where we just didn’t have that final execution,” Cirovski said. “This is not the standard that we hold ourselves to, but we have to credit UMBC for making it difficult for us.”