Men's soccer: Terps, Cavaliers play to scoreless tie

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 1, 2009

Eighth-ranked Maryland and No. 12 Virginia engaged in a testy men's soccer match Saturday night at sloppy Ludwig Field, and after a baffling number of interruptions for injuries, a scuffle, two red cards, officiating confusion and a warning to Terrapins Coach Sasho Cirovski, the teams settled for a 0-0 tie that was as dreary as the weather.

Maryland (10-4-2) seized first place in the ACC at 4-2-2 and 14 points, but with its conference schedule complete, it will have to wait for next weekend's finales involving Wake Forest and North Carolina (both 4-2-1 with 13 points) to learn the seedings for the conference tournament.

Diego Restrepo made superb consecutive saves early in overtime for the Cavaliers (10-3-2, 3-3-1), who stretched their unbeaten streak to six and will finish conference play next Saturday against North Carolina State.

After Restrepo's gems on blistering shots by Taylor Kemp and Casey Townsend, Maryland's Matt Kassel smacked a 20-yarder off the right post.

"It was pretty clear Virginia was willing to settle for a tie," Cirovski said. "A tie right now is not the end of the world, but I felt like we had enough opportunities to win this game. . . . First, second or third [place] is not a big deal. We've got bigger fish to fry. The ACC tournament is going to be one congested, competitive mess."

Townsend, one of the nation's top forwards, returned after missing a month with an ankle injury, but front-line partner Jason Herrick departed in the second half with an apparent hip ailment.

The contentious tone of the match didn't sit well with Cavaliers Coach George Gelnovatch.

"We rarely are able to play good soccer here," he said. "It's a credit to them and to the atmosphere, the frenziness and the hecticness. It's just a tough place to play.

"Your mentality is to dig in and hope that the game finds a rhythm. At the end of the first half, there was a little bit of rhythm, but then the red cards. There's so much screaming at the ref, and the ref gets excited, and the fans and coaches get into it. It just makes it crazy. The ref feels like he has to call something when you hear people screaming at the top of their lungs."

Virginia threatened from distance three times late in the first half, including Jonathan Villanueva's 30-yard free kick that Maryland goalie Zac MacMath handled nicely. A moment later, Neil Barlow slid into MacMath attempting to redirect a cross, sparking a scuffle that resulted in red cards for Barlow and Maryland's Billy Cortes.

MacMath "got one cleat to the head and one cleat to the chest," Cirovski said.

Gelnovatch countered: "Neil told me that he just slid in, went for it and collided with the keeper. He didn't go after the keeper, but when you have everyone screaming at the top of their lungs like bloody murder just happened, the ref says, 'Oh, man, I have to make a call.' "

The rambunctious tone continued after halftime, leading to frequent stoppages, sideline rants by Cirovski -- who received a yellow card -- and no flow to the game. Referee Jorge Gonzalez was largely responsible, having allowed several hard challenges to go unpunished early in the match and halting the game at odd times.

Maryland howled for a penalty kick in the 61st minute, claiming a handball. A 25-yard bid by Maryland's Kaoru Forbess in the 87th narrowly missed the far post, the last quality chance in regulation.

"It got a little dirty at times," Terrapins midfielder Drew Yates said. "It was tight and it was quick. It's Maryland-Virginia, so the atmosphere is always going to be tense."

-- HOLY CROSS 2, AMERICAN 0: In Worcester, Mass., the Eagles' nine-game unbeaten streak ended when they yielded two goals in the last 10 minutes. American (9-4-2) is second in the Patriot League with a 4-1-1 mark and will visit Virginia on Tuesday.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company