Maryland reigns supreme in first match since becoming No. 1
By Quinn Casteel | ACC Own the Pitch
Friday night’s 2-0 blanking of Virginia Tech marked yet another efficient, business-like win for the top-ranked Maryland Terrapins who have now won five straight games since tying UCLA back on Aug. 31.
Junior forward Patrick Mullins, the ACC’s assist leader (6), provided his fourth goal of the season in the 14th minute and freshman defender Mikey Ambrose scored his first career goal in the 43rd to power the Terps’ offense.
“We really wanted to come out and get a goal in the first 10 or 15 minutes and set the tone for the rest of the night, so we were pretty happy that we did that,” Mullins told Soccer Wire after the match.
Ambrose’s goal gave Maryland the insurance it needed to cruise comfortably in the second half, and marked the 10th Terrapin player to score a goal in just seven matches this season.
“I was happy to help the team get a cushion goal, and that’s the biggest part of it but it was exciting to get my first goal,” said the freshman left back, who has started all seven games of his young career. “I got the ball wide and I cut in, looking to cross it but they gave me a little more space so I just let it rip.”
Defensively, it was the fourth shutout of the season for Maryland which held Virginia Tech without a shot on goal. The Terps outshot the Hokies 18-5 on the evening and earned 10 corner kicks to the Hokies’ zero. It was one of the most impressive defense efforts in the ACC so far this season, and Maryland did it without its anchor in four-year starter, senior right back Taylor Kemp who missed the match due to injury.
However, Coach Cirovski said he credits the entire team for the shutout, not just the defenders who filled in for the injured Kemp.
“Shutouts are not just backline, it’s a function of the whole team,” said Coach Cirovski. “Tonight, the pressure from our midfielders and forwards was great, particularly in the first half – today was a team shutout.”
“The main thing in our minds tonight was to get a shutout and to get the win,” added senior defender London Woodberry, who patrolled the back third for the full 90 alongside Ambrose and fellow freshman Dakota Edwards. “We were focused and we got the job done. I give a lot to the fans, but our mentality tonight, especially at the beginning of the match was terrific. I give ourselves credit but I also give a lot to this atmosphere.”
The atmosphere at Ludwig Field on Friday night was, as usual, electrifying for a college soccer match. In front of a nearly packed house with over 4000 Terps fans in attendance, Maryland took advantage of its significant home field advantage as the fans and the players on the field kept the Hokies out of their comfort zone the entire night.
Virginia Tech opened the season in promising fashion climbing all the way to 3-1, but have since dropped to 3-3-1 after going winless in its first three ACC matches. However, the Hokies have had the disadvantage of opening conference play with road matches against North Carolina and Maryland, who were both ranked No. 1 in the country at the time of the meeting. Those games were separated by a match-up with Boston College, in which the Hokies earned a draw against the struggling Eagles. Virginia Tech will try to get back on the winning side Tuesday when the team hosts VMI.
Maryland has a quick turnaround between matches as well. The Terps host a tough non conference opponent in Georgia State Monday at 7:30 p.m. as they try for the second time to defend the top ranking.
“You always take pride in being No. 1, but you learn over time to keep it in perspective and to recognize the pressure that comes with it, but also the insignificance of it,” said Coach Cirovski on being ranked No. 1 this early in the season. “You feel good about it, you feel warm and fuzzy but that’s not the end game.”