Penn falls to No. 2 Maryland 4-0 in second round of NCAA tournament
November 21, 2010, 11:08 pm · Updated November 22, 2010, 12:00 am·
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — In 2008 Penn men’s soccer won the Ivy League and made a brief appearance in the NCAA tournament. That same year Maryland won the national title.
Two years later, it’s much of the same story.
Up against the No. 2 seed Terps, Penn was simply overmatched. In front of 2,401 excited fans, the Quakers (13-6) fell 4-0 to the Atlantic Coast Conference champions, as Maryland continues on.
The Terps put the game out of reach with three goals in the first half and continued to dominate in the second — a “complete performance,” according to Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski.
Just nine minutes into the first frame, Maryland (18-2-1) got on the board when sophomore John Stertzer slid a ball past Penn keeper Ben Berg from the top of the six-yard box.
That set the tone for the rest of the game.
After going down early, the Quakers were forced to play aggressively on offense, which left room for the Terps to score.
“If a team like Maryland gets on a roll, they’re pretty hard to stop,” Penn senior goalkeeper Ben Berg said. “Going down early was pretty tough.”
Maryland’s second goal came off a Matt Kassel penalty kick in the 26th minute. And the Terps put another point on the board on a free kick play in the 44th when redshirt senior defender Greg Young drilled a loose ball from the box up into the top of the net.
“The third goal, before half, was really a big goal to kill some of their spirit,” said Cirovski, who led Maryland to NCAA championships in 2005 and 2008. “It allowed [us] to manage the game in the second half.”
As Penn’s back struggled to clear the ball and gave the Terps ample opportunities — nine shots to Penn’s four before halftime — the Quakers’ offense failed to get anything going up top.
“In the first half, our guys were really disappointed in themselves and our performance,” said Penn coach Rudy Fuller, whose Quakers had never been down by more than two goals this season.
Penn improved after the break and nearly kept a clean sheet for the second half. Holding a lead, the Terps backed off offensively, opting to dominate the possession throughout the period.
With two minutes left in play, Maryland midfielder Patrick Mullins put an unassisted shot into the net from 10 yards out.
But, the Quakers had more opportunities in the second half, including a near goal by sophomore Travis Cantrell. Maryland keeper Zac MacMath made a diving save to guarantee his 14th shutout of the season.
While Penn’s tournament run is over, Maryland will go on to play No. 15 Penn State next weekend.
“The biggest thing for this group is to not let this one result taint the whole season,” Fuller said. “We came out in the second half and I thought played very well, and it sent our guys off the end of the season with a less bitter taste in their mouth.”
Fuller said the second half play was much more representative of his team’s season — which included just 12 goals surrendered prior to the tournament and 13 wins.
Berg and the Penn seniors finished their careers with two NCAA appearances, a postseason win and a 2008 Ivy title.