Maryland Terrapins advance in NCAA tournament

By Paul Tenorio
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 20, 2009

For the first time since September, Maryland forward Casey Townsend felt completely healthy.

Since injuring his ankle late in a game on Sept. 19 against North Carolina State, the sophomore goal scorer hadn't been able to play or practice consistently.

"I would try to play and then I'd have to sit for the rest of the week," he said.

Over the past three days, however, the talented striker finally felt healthy and worked with forward Jason Herrick to re-develop a connection up top. And on Thursday night at Ludwig Field, Townsend scored on a pretty sequence set up by his own cheeky flick to help lead Maryland to a 2-1 win over Loyola (Md.) in the first round of the NCAA Division I tournament.

"Me and Herrick last year we'd [combine] a lot and this year we haven't had a chance to do that as much because I haven't been healthy," Townsend said. "But we were working on it the last three days and I know he's there, I didn't even look I knew he was going to be there."

The Terrapins will travel to Penn State on Sunday for the second round.

It was the first time since 2001 that Maryland (13-5-2) played in the first round of the tournament, but after falling early in the ACC tournament, the Terrapins were passed over for one of the top 16 seeds.

"After being knocked out on Wednesday we didn't mind having to play today," Maryland Coach Sasho Cirovski said. "Some years we've been out for 12 days after getting the bye the first 20 or 30 minutes of the game we've been a little rusty just because you haven't played against anybody. So we took what potentially could have been a negative and turned it into a positive and our guys really were excited to play."

Loyola (11-8-3) nearly took the early lead in College Park when Phil Bannister timed a run perfectly to beat Maryland's offside trap. Bannister was alone with goalkeeper Zac MacMath from an angle on the right side inside the 18-yard box, but MacMath turned Bannister's low shot away with a kick save.

With just less than 11 minutes remaining in the half, however, Townsend combined with Herrick and midfielder Kaoru Forbess to open the scoring.

Townsend took a pass on the top of the box and flicked a pass with his heel that found Forbess on the right side of the 18-yard box. Townsend spun off, Forbess returned the pass and the sophomore finished with a left-footed shot off the left post that gave the Terrapins a 1-0 lead.

Just 2 minutes and 27 seconds later, Maryland struck again.

Keeping the pressure on after the goal, Terrapins star midfielder Drew Yates dispossessed Greyhounds defender Gerwyn Jones of the ball as he tried to dribble out of his own box. Yates turned once, then twice before blistering a shot from 12 yards out that doubled the lead.

Loyola didn't fold, however, and came out in the second half as the aggressors.

The mentality paid off just five minutes after the break when midfielder Danny Ankrah curled a pass with the outside of his right foot from 40 yards out on the left side that found Bannister between two Maryland defenders. Bannister did well to fight off a challenge and tuck the ball inside the near post to pull the Greyhounds within a goal.

Despite pushing for an equalizer Loyola was unable to break the Terrapins defense.

Now Maryland faces the prospect of another longtime first -- going on the road for a tournament game for the first time since 1998.

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