After surrendering a third-minute goal in its season-opener at Santa Clara on Friday, the Maryland men's soccer team reversed the script by jumping out to an early lead Monday vs. Hofstra, notching a score in the fourth minute.
The end result was the same regardless of when the Terps' goals came, as Maryland moved to 2-0 with a 2-0 win over Hofstra.
"The most important thing today was getting a shutout," forward Gordon Wild said, "and then with our attacking power [we're] always able to get a score."
Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski challenged his defense to improve after its inconsistent performance against the Broncos, and it paid off. The Pride, who beat Penn State 1-0 in their season opener, managed just three shots against the Terps.
"Tonight was an outstanding performance defensively," Cirovski said. "You saw the backline coming together, but they also got a lot of help from the midfield and forwards today."
Meanwhile, the Terps attack received help from Hofstra's defense in the fourth minute.
Maryland forward Sebastian Elney headed the ball towards the middle of the field, where forward DJ Reeves charged toward the area. He came close enough to force an uncomfortable and unfortunate clearance attempt from Pride defender Sean Nealis.
From the boundary of the 18-yard box, Nealis sent the ball arching high into the air and over the outstretched arms of Pride goalkeeper Alex Ashton, giving Maryland a 1-0 lead.
"Obviously that was a little bit of a lucky goal," Wild said, before chuckling and adding, "I don't even know how that went in."
In the 58th minute, Wild — the team's leading scorer and a MAC Hermann Trophy Finalist last year — ensured the Terps would produce a prettier goal.
After forward Sebastian Elney drew a foul about 25 yards from goal, Wild stood over the free kick. His left-footed strike went into the upper-left corner. Ashton took a step towards the ball but did could do nothing more to prevent Wild's first goal of the season.
"I was doing it yesterday in training, it was the same movement and the same distance," Wild said. "I didn't think actually at all, I just took the ball, took a breath and shot it."
Cirovski made a lineup change from Friday's opener, inserting sophomore Donovan Pines into the backline in place of Miles Stray. Pines played more than Stray last year, making three starts. Cirovski said the switch was pre-determined and that both would be playing significant minutes for the Terps this year.
"I consider both [Stray and Pines] starters on this team," Cirovski said. "I've got a handful of starters that are not getting starting time right now, and it's a difficult challenge with a talented squad."
Despite available options on the roster, Cirovski didn't make many substitutions Friday. That was partially due to a relatively slow-paced game on a cold night, but also to send a message about finishing games.
"Last time we played here [at Ludwig Field], about nine months ago, we had a lead and gave it away," Cirovski said, referring to the team's 2016 second-round NCAA Tournament loss to Providence, which overcame a 4-1 deficit. "We wanted to make sure we get the feeling of closing it out."
Friday, the Terps returned to their home field with a brand new defense and didn't let Hofstra mount anything close to a comeback, delivering a 2-0 win to an announced attendance of 3,609.
"To get a shutout, to get a win," Cirovski said, "it's overall a good night."