No. 1 Maryland stuns No. 2 UNC with golden goal in rain-drenched match
By Quinn Casteel | ACC Own the Pitch
The No. 1 ranked Maryland Terrapins (13-0-1, 6-0-0) took down No. 2 North Carolina (11-2-1, 4-1-1) 1-0 on a golden goal from freshman forward Schillo Tshuma eight minutes into overtime in a game hampered by heavy rain for most of the first half Friday night in College Park.
With sole possession of first place in the ACC on the line, the Terps fans packed Ludwig Field with a crowd of more than 7,300 to create a championship atmosphere. However, with a rain-soaked field slowing the normally electrifying speed of play between the two sides, the likely upcoming ACC Championship match-up became a battle of attrition.
“In the first half and at the beginning of the second half there were patches of water all over the field but as the game went on the ball started to move around more and we took advantage of that,” said Tshuma, whose golden goal from three yards out on a redirection marked his sixth strike this season. “This is our home ground and we’re used to it, and we use that to our advantage.”
Maryland racked up 16 shots on the evening, eight of which had to be saved by UNC goalkeeper Scott Goodwin, and ultimately the top offense in the country found a way to get past the top defense in the country. Meanwhile, UNC was held to six shots and forced Maryland goalkeeper Keith Cardona into just two saves.
“We wanted to come in and be the better defensive team tonight, and I think we showed that,” Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski told Soccer Wire after the match.
The Tarheel offense played considerably well given the conditions and tested the Terps’ back line several times in the second half.
In the 64th minute, sophomore midfielder Vernei Valimaa blasted an open shot from the top of the box well out of the reach of Cardona, but the ball ricocheted off the center of the right post. With the pitch being soaked and soggy, Maryland defender London Woodberry was able to beat UNC’s Andy Craven to the loose ball sitting in front of the box to clear it away.
As conditions on the field became slightly more comfortable in the final 20 minutes of the match, the Terps spent most of their time in the Tarheels defensive third, and even came within inches of scoring the game-winner with less than two minutes to play.
However, moments after Tshuma’s potential winner in regulation was knocked away by UNC midfielder Danny Garcia just before it crossed the goal line, the Tarheels found an attack of their own on a transition fast break and were awarded a penalty kick, causing the Terps faithful to fall silent.
However, Cardona would save the day for the Terps and their rowdy fans by making a diving save to his right to stop a well-taken shot from UNC forward Rob Lovejoy.
“I was a little shaken up, but I just had to focus on the shot,” said Cardona on his reaction to the PK being called. “Sasho always says, ‘The longer you keep teams in it, the more confidence they get and the more they can fight you. It’s a chaotic sport – we can outplay them and still lose the game.”
For UNC defensively, it was more of the same as senior goalkeeper Scott Goodwin, with the help of the always stout Tarheel defense shut out the Terps for the full 90 minutes of regulation, earning what would have been his nation-leading 11th shutout of the season.
But in the extra period, Tshuma and senior forward Patrick Mullins, who provided his conference-leading eighth assist on the game-winning goal, had other ideas.
“I’m going to give them credit, their defense is really good and they proved it again tonight,” Tshuma told Soccer Wire. “We’ve scored more than one goal every game this season so for a team to hold us into overtime, they’ve got to be a really good team. Thank God we pulled off the win tonight.”
With the win, the Terps remain in sole possession of first place in the ACC, moving five points ahead of UNC in the standings. Maryland would have to lose its final two conference matches against Clemson and Wake Forest for the Tarheels to have a chance to claim the top seed in the ACC Tournament.
Regardless of how the seeding plays out however, the odds of a rematch between the two top ranked teams in Division I in the championship round of the ACC Tournament remain high.
“If we both play to our capacity there’s a good chance, but I don’t want to disrespect any other teams because in the ACC we have a lot of great teams,” said Cirovski of a potential grudge match in November. “But I have a feeling we might see each other at some point down the road.”
Maryland plays its final non-conference match of the regular season Tuesday at home against Lehigh, while the Tarheels host Campbell that same night in their next scheduled game.
The ACC Touranment kicks off Nov. 5, with the first two rounds being held on the sites of the No. 1 seed and at the sites of the higher seeds, and the ACC Semifinals and ACC Championship being held in Germantown, Md. at the Maryland SoccerPlex from Nov. 9-11.