CARSON, Calif. — For the third consecutive year, an appearance in the NCAA men’s College Cup meant a semifinal loss for Maryland.
Even worse — this loss resulted from the final shot of the game.
John Michael Hayden scored with 48 seconds to play in the second half of sudden-death overtime to give defending NCAA champion Indiana a 3-2 victory over the Terrapins last night at the Home Depot Center.
“This one definitely hurt a lot,” said Maryland forward Jason Garey, who scored to set Maryland’s all-time record for points in one season. “I can’t say that it hurt any more than the other two [semifinal losses].”
Terps coach Sasho Cirovski said Hayden’s goal provided a fitting end to the game.
“This is the best soccer game I’ve been a part of since the 1995 semifinal between Virginia and Duke that I witnessed,” Cirovski said. “Our goal was to out-champion a champion, and we fell 48 seconds short.”
Indiana’s Charley Traylor began the play that resulted in Hayden’s goal by chipping a ball between Garey and the Terps’ Domenic Mediate to Danny O’Rourke, who eluded Garey and dribbled toward the right corner.
As O’Rourke crossed the ball, Hayden charged forward and headed it before goalkeeper Noah Palmer could punch it away. Hayden’s 5-yard header settled in the upper right corner of the net.
“The guy placed a heck of a ball in there,” Terps defender Kenney Bertz said of O’Rourke’s cross. “Noah tried to come out on it, but the other guy [Hayden] made a heck of a play on it. There’s really not much you can do.”
Cirovski agreed. “John Michael Hayden must have run about 15 yards to get into that position to score,” he said. “If a player makes that kind of play, then all credit goes to him.”
Though both teams attacked relentlessly, the second-seeded Hoosiers (18-4-1) defused third-seeded Maryland’s offense by placing O’Rourke, Brian Plotkin and Josh Tudela in the center of their midfield.
“Indiana did a good job of forcing us into the three-man midfield,” Cirovski said. “We played too much down the middle of the park and weren’t as effective in getting the ball wide. That hurt us.”
The three central midfielders played a pivotal role in forcing turnovers and generating quick counterattacks and combinations.
“From the back up to the front, they put a lot of pressure on you,” Bertz said. “They’re an honest, hard-working team.”
Nevertheless, Maryland (17-6-2) scored first, as Garey redirected Abe Thompson’s pass from one yard into the net in the 35th minute. That goal, Garey’s 22nd of the season, enabled the junior forward to surpass Cliff Krug’s seasonal record with 53 points this year.