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Maryland men’s soccer nips North Carolina in thrilling match of nation’s top two teams

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Maryland and North Carolina, the top men’s soccer teams in the country, played a gripping affair Friday night, one that not even waves of heavy rain could spoil.

The only goal came nine minutes into sudden-death overtime when freshman Schillo Tshuma redirected Patrick Mullins’s shot, lifting the No. 1 Terrapins to a 1-0 victory over the No. 2 Tar Heels in front of 7,340 at Ludwig Field, the second-largest home crowd in program history.

But the dramatic ending was preceded by four shots off the posts, by a goal line clearance, by sliding defenders blocking clear bids and by wonderful saves, including Terrapins sophomore Keith Cardona’s gem on a penalty kick with less than two minutes remaining.

“It was a great advertisement for college soccer,” Terps Coach Sasho Cirovski said. “This is everything you want from a 1-2 game. . . . I have got a feeling we will see each other a couple more times this year” – a reference to the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

Maryland (13-0-1, 6-0-0) extended its winning streak to 12 and moved to the brink of clinching the regular season league title. With a victory over Lehigh on Tuesday, the Terps would tie the program record for best start to a season, which has stood since 1968.

After enduring pressure throughout the evening, defending NCAA champion North Carolina (11-2-1, 4-1-1) conceded just its fourth goal this season.

Sunny Jane won the ball in midfield and supplied Tschuma, a native of Zimbabwe who was The Washington Post’s All-Met Player of the Year at Episcopal High School last fall. Tshuma played the ball wide to Mullins, then made a near-post run to deflect the shot past goalkeeper Scott Goodwin.

Tshuma’s sixth goal was sweet redemption. Late in regulation, he tripped Rob Lovejoy in the box. Cardona came to the rescue on the penalty kick, reading Lovejoy’s approach and sliding to his right to block the attempt as well as UNC’s rebound effort.

When he was called for the foul, Tshuma said: “I felt like everything just stopped. That was terrible [on his part]. After [Cardona] saved that, I felt a little bit of relief. [Teammate] John Stertzer came up to me and told me to stay in it, there was more time to play.”

The penalty kick was one of several extraordinary moments late in regulation. Goodwin thwarted Mullins from 12 yards, UNC’s Mikey Lopez cleared a shot off the goal line, and after Cardona’s heroics, Mullins ripped a 25-yarder off the right post with 30 seconds left.

Three minutes into overtime, the Tar Heels’ Andy Craven redirected Lopez’s shot off the left post.

The Terrapins dodged puddles and Tar Heels during a dominant first half but failed to score. “We played a great first half, as good as you can play against Carolina without scoring,” Cirovski said.

The start of the second half was delayed 15 minutes as the grounds crew used pitchforks to improve drainage.

Both sides created quality chances before Carmona’s save forced extra time.

“It’s a chaotic sport,” he said. “We can outplay them, own the ball, own the game, and if they finish their chance, they’ve got the game.”

●VIRGINIA 3, VIRGINIA TECH 2: Zach Carroll scored 10 minutes into overtime as the host Cavaliers (8-6-1, 2-4 ACC) overcame a two-goal deficit in the last 20 minutes to defeat the Hokies (5-7-3, 0-5-1).

VILLANOVA 1, GEORGETOWN WOMEN 0: The Hoyas (14-1-2, 8-1-1 Big East) had their nine-match unbeaten streak halted.

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