Michigan upsets Maryland in NCAA soccer quarterfinals

Maryland's Jason Herrick and Matt Kassel, left, are stunned at the outcome their game against Michigan. The Wolverines defeated the Terrapins, 3-2, in overtime.
Maryland's Jason Herrick and Matt Kassel, left, are stunned at the outcome their game against Michigan. The Wolverines defeated the Terrapins, 3-2, in overtime. (Joel Richardson For The Washington Post)
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By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, December 5, 2010; 12:05 AM


With late-afternoon shadows beginning to creep across Ludwig Field and tension building with every touch on the ball, a day of wonderful NCAA soccer theater came to an abrupt and emotional end. Maryland players, who had not felt the sting of defeat in more than two months, dropped to their knees, while a Michigan clan, representing a program in just its 11th season, erupted in celebration.

Freshman Fabio Pereira, a reserve midfielder, was at the center of the maize-and-blue mass, having scored his first career goal 14 minutes into sudden-death overtime to lift the 10th-seeded Wolverines to a 3-2 quarterfinal victory over the No. 2 Terrapins (19-3-1) before 3,536 at Ludwig Field.

The loss halted Maryland's winning streak at 15, one short of the program record and one short of a trip to Santa Barbara, Calif., for a sixth College Cup appearance in nine years.

In just its fourth NCAA tournament, Michigan (17-4-3) advanced to the final four for the first time and will play third-seeded Akron on Friday.

"It's really hard to believe that we're not going to Santa Barbara," said Terrapins Coach Sasho Cirovski, whose ACC champions had outscored opponents 41-4 with 12 shutouts during the winning streak. "This was the most gut-wrenching, heartbreaking loss at Ludwig in my [18-year] career."

The Terrapins lamented scoring just twice on a season-high 33 shots (nine on goal) and hitting the post and crossbar. They went ahead in the 17th minute on Casey Townsend's goal, but Jeff Quijano and Justin Meram scored 10 minutes apart early in the second half. Maryland's Jason Herrick equalized with a 79th-minute strike.

In the extra period, after two dangerous Maryland headers went wide, Hamoody Saad sent a cross between two defenders on the left side. Pereira was unmarked and sent a sliding seven-yard shot into the right corner.

"I don't usually make these runs but the coach kept telling me to make them, so I was wide open and got really happy," he said. "It was the easiest goal to score."

With Maryland leading the nation in scoring and Michigan featuring the dynamic brother partnership of Soony and Hamoody Saad, the match promised to entertain. The Terrapins were superior in possession and a persistent menace, while the Wolverines sought to unleash a swift counterattack.

Townsend opened the scoring with a side-volley from 17 yards for his ninth goal. Later, goalkeeper Chris Blais thwarted Townsend and appeared to get a touch on John Stertzer's low effort before it struck the right post.

Late in the half, Blais mishandled a spinning ball that almost slipped into the corner.

The furious pace continued after the break, with Michigan collecting the equalizer in the 50th minute on a corner kick that deflected out to Quijano for a 17-yard one-timer through a cluster of players.

Sloppy defending led to mayhem in both penalty areas, and in the 60th minute, Quijano set up Meram for a 12-yard bid to the far corner. Suddenly, the Terrapins faced their first deficit at home since the opener against Michigan State and the first of any kind since the previous loss, Sept. 24 at North Carolina.

After Stertzer's bid struck the crossbar, Herrick smashed a 19-yarder with power and accuracy into the left side. The frenzy continued. Maryland's Alex Lee cleared a shot off the goal line and Blais made a reflex save on Townsend's shot.

"We probably left seven high-quality opportunities unfinished," Cirovski said. "Every time a ball bounced loose or we had a chance to strike it, for whatever reason, it went wide or was blocked or didn't go in."

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