Maryland Men's Soccer Beats North Carolina

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By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 8, 2008

Sasho Cirovski pledged early this season that, with time, his young Maryland men's soccer team would round into form and become a threat both in the ACC and NCAA tournaments.

Though last night's 2-1 victory over North Carolina was not executed with the elegance and precision that Cirovski desires, the fourth-ranked Terrapins (15-3, 6-2 ACC) did wrap up the regular season with an eighth consecutive triumph. They will be the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament and face the Tar Heels (11-6-1, 3-5) in Wednesday's quarterfinals in Cary, N.C.

"We've had a couple grind-it-out games and hopefully now we can settle down," Cirovski said. "They are slowly developing the confidence it takes to push through some of these difficult moments."

Midfielder Graham Zusi, one of five seniors honored before their final regular season home game, scored the go-ahead goal in the 36th minute before 3,506 at Ludwig Field. The Terrapins' defense continued its improvement since a 5-3 loss at Clemson on Oct. 3 -- the last time the Terrapins lost -- and has conceded just five goals during the winning streak.

They fell behind on Cameron Brown's one-timer from 15 yards midway through the first half, but responded four minutes later when Drew Yates, a junior midfielder from DeMatha starting because Jason Herrick was serving a red card suspension, placed a 17-yard shot into the lower right corner for his first goal of the year.

The Terrapins then went ahead when Zusi fired a 23-yard shot that beat diving goalkeeper Jacob Wescoe, struck the base of the left post and slithered across the goal line.

"It was a hit-and-hope thing," Zusi said. "I was just trying to get it on frame, and I was lucky it hit the inside of the post and snuck in."

While Zusi celebrated his third goal of the year and 25th of his career, the 20th-ranked Tar Heels lamented another defensive breakdown. After allowing more than one goal once in their first 13 matches, they have conceded 13 in the past five games and have lost four in a row.

The Terrapins' inability to convert clear runs early in the second half nearly cost them as UNC defender Jordan Graye (DeMatha) sent a 30-yarder off the left post. After Maryland withstood persistent pressure, Terrapins defender Rodney Wallace's header struck the crossbar in the 81st minute -- the last serious bid of a sloppy match.

"There wasn't going to be a lot of flow to the game," Cirovski said. "We could've made it easier for ourselves if we had finished some of our chances."

· WAKE FOREST 2, VIRGINIA 0: In Charlottesville, Cody Arnoux and Sam Cronin scored in the first 16 minutes as the top-ranked Demon Deacons (17-0-1, 7-0-1 ACC) stretched their unbeaten streak to 23. The Cavaliers (9-7-1, 4-4) have lost two straight league matches to close the regular season.

· VIRGINIA TECH WOMEN 1, VIRGINIA 1: After playing to a 1-1 tie through 110 minutes, the seventh-seeded Hokies (10-7-4) outlasted the third seed Cavaliers (13-4-3) in a penalty kick tiebreaker, 2-1, to advance to tomorrow's ACC tournament final against top seed North Carolina (18-1-2) in Cary, N.C.

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