Maryland men's soccer beats Penn State in NCAA tournament on goal by Taylor Kemp

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, November 29, 2010; 12:30 AM

Maryland had only one shot on goal against Penn State on Sunday evening in the NCAA men's soccer tournament, but it was an astounding strike in the waning moments by one of the few players who had yet to score for the nation's boldest attack.

Taylor Kemp, a sophomore defender, watched the ball float toward him in the 88th minute, swung his left leg with symmetrical perfection and struck a 22-yard volley that rose beyond the defenders and then dipped past the goalkeeper.

Kemp's first career goal in 42 appearances provided the second-seeded Terrapins with a 1-0 victory - their 15th straight triumph - and a berth in the quarterfinals Saturday against No. 10 Michigan, also in College Park.

"I didn't really think," said Kemp, a left back who became the 15th player to score this season for Maryland, the top-scoring unit in the country. "It came down and I hit it the way I wanted to. After that, I kind of blacked out."

Despite an abundance of possession and opportunities, including a shot off the crossbar in the 84th minute and a 21-10 advantages in shots, Maryland (19-2-1) wasn't able to put the ball on target until Kemp waited for a stray ball to fall into his path. The Terrapins have eliminated the No. 15 Nittany Lions (14-8-1) in each of the past two seasons.

"We've been scoring a lot of goals - one of these games was bound to happen," Maryland Coach Sasho Cirovski said. "I'm glad we were able to find a victory in maybe a little lackluster efficiency" in the final third of the field.

While the Terrapins labored to test goalkeeper Brendan Birmingham, they provided another stout defensive effort for their 15th shutout. Penn State's Corey Hertzog, the nation's leading scorer and a three-goal performer last week against Old Dominion, managed one shot and playmaker Matheus Braga didn't have the space to create.

"We communicated very well, knowing where he was," central defender Ethan White said of Hertzog. "We just kept an eye on him."

During the winning streak, Maryland has a 41-4 scoring advantage with 12 shutouts.

While Maryland was persistent in the early stages, Penn State's chances were intermittent but threatening: Braga's bid skipped narrowly wide, and Zac MacMath made a sensational leaping save on Drew Cost's 12-yard bid as well as a solid stop on Justin Lee's distant effort.

The Terrapins got better as the second half unfolded.

In the 84th minute, Kemp made a wonderful turn to create space and serve a pinpoint cross that Casey Townsend volleyed off the crossbar from seven yards. Jason Herrick sent the rebound wide. Four minutes later, Kemp struck for the spectacular goal, setting off a wild celebration near the Maryland bench.

"It's been an ongoing joke with Taylor all year: When is he going to get his first goal?" Cirovski said. "He gets forward so well, he has had some great crosses [this year]. He's a threat on long-distance shots and he has come close so many times. We've all been waiting for that moment and we're delighted it came on a big stage."

In Columbia, S.C., Michigan (16-4-3) scored three goals in 10 minutes of the second half to upset seventh-seeded South Carolina (13-7-2), 3-1, and advance to the quarterfinals for the second time in program history.

Senior Justin Meram had two goals and freshman Soony Saad scored his 19th of the season for the Wolverines. The Gamecocks were short-handed for 25 minutes after a red card.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company