Top-seeded Maryland wasn't seriously threatened during its NCAA men's soccer tournament opener against Brown last night in College Park, but the Terrapins didn't take command in their typically authoritative style either.
So when time expired, certifying Maryland's 1-0 victory over the Bears before 1,571 at chilly Ludwig Field, there was a clear sense of relief from the sluggish Terps, who had not played in 11 days.
"The game stayed in the balance until the very end and that's what NCAA tournament games are all about," Maryland Coach Sasho Cirovski said.
Marc Burch, making his first start in six weeks, scored midway through the first half of a match that lacked clear scoring opportunities. It was all the Terps (16-4-1) needed to advance to a round-of-16 home game Sunday at 1 p.m. against St. John's.
The Red Storm (11-5-5) advanced with a minor upset, 1-0 over No. 16 seed Dartmouth, on Matt Groenwald's goal in the 57th minute. It will mark the third straight year Maryland and St. John's have collided in the NCAA tournament, the Red Storm winning in the 2003 semifinals and the Terps prevailing in last year's quarterfinals.
After an early scare, the Terrapins began to take charge, sustaining possession and slowly building toward the first goal.
In the 26th minute, A.J. Godbolt, the team's assists leader, saw Burch make his run into the penalty area and delivered the ball to the senior transfer from Evansville (Ind.), who smashed a shot from the right side under goalkeeper Jarrett Leech for his third goal of the season.
"I just ran to where I knew he would hit it," Burch said.
Cirovski said he decided to insert Burch into the starting lineup after watching him perform well in training the past week.
"He has at times lacked some confidence in himself and a forward needs to have that," Cirovski said. "I saw it in him the last three days and I challenged him before the game to play with the same confidence that he did in training."
Jason Garey, Maryland's player of the year candidate, nearly stretched the lead six minutes after Burch's goal, but it was the last serious threat of the half by the Terrapins. Garey (20 goals) finished without a goal or an assist for the first time in 12 games.
The second half followed the same theme, Maryland probing for a second strike and Brown absorbing pressure and waiting for a rare opportunity against rarely bothered freshman goalkeeper Chris Seitz. But the Terps lost their way and Brown's attack began to show some bite, drawing several corner kicks and creating a couple dangerous sequences in the penalty area.
* VIRGINIA 4, SOUTH FLORIDA 4: The 13th-seeded Cavaliers advanced with a 7-6 penalty kick tiebreaker victory after a wild 110 minutes in Charlottesville. Virginia (12-4-3) will play at No. 4 North Carolina (16-3-3) Sunday at 1 p.m.
* UNC GREENSBORO 0, VIRGINIA TECH 0: The 12th-seeded Hokies (10-5-5) were eliminated in a penalty kick tiebreaker, 4-3, following a scoreless tie with the Spartans (13-6-2) in Blacksburg, Va.
* NOTRE DAME 2, INDIANA 0: Justin McGeeney's second-half goal broke a scoreless tie, and Joe Lapira scored late as the visiting Fighting Irish (12-7-3) beat the two-time defending champion Hoosiers.
Third-seeded Indiana closes with a 13-3-6 record.