Not only is sophomore Andre Wise the fastest player on Towson State's men's soccer team, but he also has impeccable timing.
Could there have been a finer moment for Wise to score his first goal this season, and only the second of his collegiate career, than with three minutes left in regulation yesterday and the Tigers tied with No. 3 Maryland?
Freshman Petteri Kaijasilta alertly tapped the ball to Wise, who beat Maryland goalkeeper Russell Payne from about 12 yards to give the Tigers a 2-1 victory before more than 800 spectators at Towson.
With one shot, only the fourth taken by Wise this year, the best start for Towson (6-0) in 29 years had gotten better.
"When the ball got to Petteri, I just started sprinting and calling for the ball," said Wise (Meade). "I didn't think he was going to see me or hear me because I was out of breath."
"He's so fast," said Kaijasilta, a native of Turku, Finland. "I saw him just running through and it was an easy touch."
Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski, thinking that the goal should have been disallowed because Wise was offside, ran in front of the Towson bench to argue with the officials. A heated exchange then took place between Cirovski and Tigers coach Frank Olszewski before the two were separated.
"I'm a strong believer that there are rules, and if there's a coaching box, you've got to be where you've got to be," said Olszewski, whose team has defeated Maryland three of the last four years. "There's a certain protocol that needs to be adhered to."
Said Wise: "You can watch the tape. I was onsides."
Cirovski said he also thought Towson's Richard Moller was offside when the freshman forward scored less than five minutes into the second half to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead.
Senior Todd Hicks had directed a pass to Moller from midfield. Moller then outran Maryland's R. T. Moore and chipped a shot over Payne, who had come out to play the ball before backpedaling.
Maryland (5-1-1) pulled even and seized the momentum with 11:34 remaining when freshman Pierre Venditti headed in a short pass on the left side from sophomore Mike McIlwain.
Until then, the Tigers had survived a couple of scares, thanks mainly to the goaltending of freshman Ethan Jennings (five saves), who started even though sophomore Mike Stillman hadn't been scored upon in three games, and the superb play of senior defender Erik Washington (Meade), who seemed to redirect every ball that crossed midfield.
The Tigers were outshot, 18-7, but they wouldn't fold.
"The only thing we tried to stress this week was that this game was not the end all, be all of the season," Olszewski said. "Rankings are rankings. They're opinions. [Maryland] is a good team and they deserve to be up there, but our guys have showed some character all season."
Said Cirovski: "With a 19-game season and the type of schedule we play, you're going to have games like this. This game took on a lot more significance for Towson State than it did for us. We'll see where we are at the end of the year."