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Terps men's soccer team beats Indiana, 2-1, for Big Ten title

Maryland men's soccer players celebrate after winning the Big Ten Conference tournament championship with a 2-1 victory against Indiana on Sunday at Ludwig Field.
Maryland men's soccer players celebrate after winning the Big Ten Conference tournament championship with a 2-1 victory against Indiana on Sunday at Ludwig Field. (Greg Fiume, Maryland Athletics)

COLLEGE PARK — The Maryland men's soccer team was less than five minutes away from playing its second overtime game in three days.

But Terps midfielder Mael Corboz knew he could prevent that from happening as he placed the ball just outside of the box for a free kick late in the Big Ten Conference championship Sunday afternoon against Indiana at Ludwig Field.

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"Any foul around the 18 [yard box] for me or [midfielder] Tsubasa [Endoh] is a good chance to score, and that foul was no different," said Corboz, the tournament's Offensive Most Valuable Player. "I didn't think of the circumstances, really. I just focused on hitting the ball over the way I wanted it to."

With the score tied, 1-1, Corboz curled a right-footed strike into the top-left corner of the goal, sealing a 2-1 win and the Big Ten tournament championship in the Maryland's first season in the conference.

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"We've wanted this," said Terps goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who was named the Defensive Most Valuable Player of the tournament. "We set our sights on this from the beginning of the season. So to be able to establish our goal and [get] what we wanted — it means a lot."

Ranked No. 2 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll to begin the season, the Terps were 3-5-2 in their first 10 games and dropped out of the rankings.

After their loss against Northwestern on Oct. 5, the Terps went on an eight-game winning streak to win the Big Ten regular-season title. The team beat Rutgers in the quarterfinals Nov. 9 before outlasting Michigan State in a penalty shootout during Friday's semifinal. And Sunday's championship victory extended Maryland's unbeaten run to 11 games.

After the final whistle, Endoh fell to his knees and placed his head on the grass while several teammates piled on top of him in excitement.

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"I'm just so happy for these guys," Terps coach Sasho Cirovski said. "To win three years in a row now, conference regular season and tournament championships, [and] particularly after where we were [earlier] this year."

Coming off an overtime game against the Spartans only two days before the championship game, the Terps started the game on the back foot. The Hoosiers had the best chances in the first 15 minutes, capped by forward Andrew Oliver's side-footed volley off a long throw, which was knocked over the net by Steffen.

"We weathered the storm a little bit through, I think, some fatigue," Cirovski said.

After failing to take a shot on goal in the first 38 minutes, the Terps began applying more pressure in the final minutes of the first half to earn a 1-0 lead. In between two Indiana players, defender Chris Odoi-Atsem poked the ball toward the center of the box and defender Christoffer Wallander-Ianev pounded it into the net for his first goal of the season.

With the Hoosiers pushing for an equalizer and Maryland looking for a second goal, the game opened up during the second half. Indiana punished the Terps on a counterattack in the 64th minute, though.

As Oliver prepared to take a shot, Maryland midfielder Dan Metzger appeared to poke the ball into his own net. Still, no player was credited with the own goal.

"I don't even know. It was really quick," Steffen said. "All I saw is we went to clear it, and it hit off somebody."

Both teams struggled to develop clear chances for the next 20 minutes. With another overtime game looming, Terps forward Jeroen Meefout drew a foul from Indiana roughly 20 yards from the goal.

Corboz took care of the rest, scoring his 10th goal of the season.

"I felt like something special was going to come in the last 10 minutes," Cirovski said. "We've seen that story many times here at Ludwig Field."

The bracket for the NCAA tournament will be announced Monday, and the Terps are likely to receive a first-round bye after winning their conference tournament.

After losing in the national title game last year, the team enters this year's tournament in the middle of a memorable turnaround of its season.

"We're not done," Cirovski said. "We've won the double, and now we're shooting for the treble."

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