- The Washington Times - Monday, December 1, 2003

Playing without two of its offensive stars, the Maryland soccer team turned to its defense in the NCAA tournament’s round of 16.

The Terrapins held Akron to one shot on goal and overcame the absence of forwards Abe Thompson (plantar fasciaitis) and Domenic Mediate (broken collarbone) as they defeated the Zips 1-0 yesterday before 2,010 at Ludwig Field.

The Terps (19-2-1) will play host to Saint Louis on Saturday in the quarterfinals. The seventh-seeded Billikens (15-3-3) defeated Washington 3-2 yesterday, setting up a rematch of the Terps’ 1-0 victory in the third round of last year’s NCAA tournament.

Thompson sat out after aggravating a foot injury that caused him to miss the last seven games of the regular season. He warmed up briefly at the end of the first half but remained on the sideline.

Maryland took advantage of one of Akron’s few offensive advances to score in the 61st minute. After the defense stifled the Zips, midfielder Sumed Ibrahim sent a pass to forward Nino Marcantonio, who started in place of Thompson. Marcantonio dribbled for several yards and passed to Jason Garey on the right side, who drilled a 10-yard shot from a wide angle past Zips keeper Justin Christafaris (four saves).

“We just broke very quickly with Sumed and then up to Nino,” said Garey, who has a team-leading 12 goals. “We’re a very good counterattacking team, so any time we can get going forward with speed [were in good shape].”

The goal capped an aggressive 16-minute stretch for the explosive Terps, who had been held in check before the break. Marcantonio almost scored four minutes into the second half from 4 yards out and defenders Kenney Bertz and Chris Lancos sent shots off opposite posts after a corner kick in the 54th minute.

The Zips (15-5-2) did little offensively all day, but were surprisingly quiet in the final 30 minutes. Akron didn’t begin a substantial push down field until the final 12 minutes and managed only one shot in the second half.

“In the final third we weren’t clean enough,” Akron coach Ken Lolla said. “We didn’t have enough sharpness. The final pass broke down a number of times. We just didn’t create enough dangerous chances on goal.”

Maryland, though, didn’t permit Akron the opportunity to make a comeback. The Terps dominated play in the second half and continued to attack even after taking the lead.

They also bottled up the middle at the defensive end, giving forwards Kirk Harwat and Hans Jorgen Haugland little room to maneuver. Neither player took a shot in the second half.

“They wanted to play when they got in the final third through the middle,” said Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski, who earned his 150th victory in his 11th season at the school. “They wanted to find Haugland and they wanted to get the ball into Harwat and we did a good job neutralizing those guys. If you neutralize Haugland, you’re taking away their playmaker.”

The first half was staged mostly in the midfield, with neither team creating much at the offensive end. Akron’s lone shot on goal came on speedy midfielder Alex Odwell’s run down the right side in the 19th minute, but his attempt was easily handled by Maryland keeper Noah Palmer. Otherwise, the Zips were content to efficiently clear out the few balls to bounce into their defensive zone.


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