The top-seeded Maryland men's soccer team rode second-half goals by junior midfielder Mikias Eticha and sophomore midfielder Tsubasa Endoh to defeat No. 8 seed Boston College in an Atlantic Coast Conference tournament quarterfinal at Ludwig Field on Tuesday night.
But it was the play of the defense that drew coach Sasho Cirovski’s praise. That unit allowed the Eagles to take just six shots and earn one corner kick as the Terps (11-3-5) notched their fifth shutout of the season.
“I was very pleased with our performance on the defensive side of the ball,” Cirovski said Wednesday. “We were locked in the whole game. We were in good spots when we attacked. We did a great job of stopping their counterattack, which is one of the better counterattacking teams in the country. We showed growth from the first time we played them [on Oct. 4]. We played well and beat them 2-1, but we played better this time around. So it’s good when at this time of the year you can get your team to play very well on the defensive side of the ball.”
Maryland, which is ranked fourth in the most recent National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll, took advantage on offense, unleashing 20 shots and taking 10 corner kicks. Cirovski said the offense has not been a concern to him this fall.
“We’ve been pretty good offensively all year, and we still squandered some good chances,” he said. “But that’s an area that we know we’re good in. The area that we needed to improve in was the defensive side, and we feel good that we have the right balance at this point of the season. It’s been a work in progress all year. So it was overall a very good night.”
The Terps advanced to Friday’s semifinal at the Maryland Soccerplex in Germantown where they will meet No. 5 seed Clemson, which knocked off No. 4 seed North Carolina, 2-1. Maryland beat the Tigers, 3-1, on Sept. 21, but Cirovski said not to put too much weight on that outcome.
“I think the result was a little flattering for us,” he said. “I think it was a very good game. We played well, and we finished our chances, but that was a pretty even game. I think both teams have improved since then in different areas. I think it’s going to be a very good game. I think both teams are capable of making very deep runs in the NCAA tournament.”
Since neither the Terps nor Clemson have seen each other in almost two months, there could be some unfamiliarity on the part of both teams. But Cirovski said he expects both sides to become familiar with each other very quickly.
“I think it’s going to come down to execution,” he said. “We know each other very well. We played each other twice last year, and we played this year. We know each other very well from a personnel standpoint, a style standpoint. It’s going to come down to which team executes better on the day.”