Maryland men's soccer coach Sasho Cirovski has focused on one game at a time throughout the season. The Terps clinched the Big Ten regular season championship Friday, but the veteran coach still wants his team to improve.
Maryland is fixated on its ultimate goal of winning the NCAA Championship.
In a still test from American on Tuesday night, Cirovski the Terps continued to make strides toward their potential and prove their composure in pressure situations. Behind goals from midfielder Amar Sejdic and forward Gordon Wild, Maryland downed the Eagles, 2-1, at Ludwig Field for the team's ninth consecutive victory.
"It was a great game," Cirovski said. "They were highly motivated and we once again found the resolve to come out and win the game. They challenged us. They played at a high tempo and made the game exciting."
Friday, the Terps' undefeated season came close to ending. Wisconsin held a 2-1 lead in the 87th minute before Maryland scored about a minute later and in overtime to secure a 3-2 win and the Big Ten regular season title.
Both teams got out to slow starts Tuesday, but the Terps (12-0-2) broke through in the 27th minute.
Midfielder Amar Sejdic passed to midfielder Jake Rozhansky, and he passed it right back to Sejdic after the sophomore sprinted past American midfielder Max Holdsworth. The Louisville, Kentucky, native took two dribbles toward goal and launched a shot past goalkeeper Lucas Belanger for his sixth goal of the season.
Less than seven minutes later, however, Sejdic failed to stop American's score.
Eagles midfielder Tim Neumann sent a free kick into the box to defender Chris Fanet. Sejdic, defender Suli Dainkeh and Fanet all jumped for the ball, but Fanet made the strongest contact and headed the equalizer into the bottom-left corner of the net.
Maryland recorded shutouts in five consecutive contests entering Friday. In the past two matches, the Terps have given up a combined three goals.
"I'm tired of giving up goals," goalkeeper Cody Niedermeier said. "I hate it. [Cirovski] hates it and the team hates it. From the defensive standpoint, we definitely have some things to work on. Soccer is such an up and down sport that you can go through that anytime."
At halftime, Cirovski yelled at his players to raise their intensity, a message Niedermeier said the squad needed.
Maryland has scored after each goal its given up this season, and it did so again against the Eagles (7-5-3).
Sejdic sent a pass down the field to Wild in the 70th minute. After controlling the ball, Wild took two dribbles toward the middle of the box and struck his sixth shot of the game into the top-left corner for his Big Ten-leading 11th goal of the season.
"I tried to shake him a little bit to create space," Wild said. "It worked. The last two games I was shooting well, but I was a little bit unlucky. I didn't hit it on the frame well. On this one, I just tried to shoot it well and it turned out well thankfully again."
The Terps had a scare with 52 seconds remaining when American midfielder Panos Nakhid sprinted into the box with no defenders in front of him. Niedermeier ran out of goal to block the shot.
Niedermeier played with Nakhid on D.C. United U-23 this past summer. He knew Nakhid has a burst of speed, so that helped the senior time his run out of goal and preserve Maryland's victory.
"This was always going to be a very difficult game for us," Cirovski said. "I'm proud of the team that we found the resolve and the quality to come out on top. We scored two great goals today and we made a fantastic save. When you do those things and you're at home, you have a good chance to win."