After VCU forward Siad Haji's 45th-minute cross passed five Maryland men's soccer defenders, setting up midfielder Rafael Andrade Santos to give the Rams a 2-0 lead, Haji jumped in the air and pumped his fist.
Maryland goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair lay down inside the goal. Defender Miles Stray bent over at the waist. Defender Matt Di Rosa listlessly dribbled the ball out of the back of the net.
The Terps struggled to comprehend the 3-0 defeat, which extended their losing skid to three games after going undefeated through the first 13 games.
"This is a difficult period. It sucks, to be honest," forward Gordon Wild said. "Nobody wants to lose here. We still consider ourselves as the best program in the country and we take pride in that."
Maryland's 1-0 loss against No. 10 Georgetown, which started this stretch, was viewed as a respectable effort against a ranked opponent. It was supposed to inspire a team that hadn't lost a regular-season game since 2015 to improve.
Coach Sasho Cirovski blamed fatigue for the team's effort in a 1-0 defeat to Coastal Carolina. Still, the back-to-back losses left the Terps demoralized, defender George Campbell said, and would stick in their minds as they advanced into the final two regular season games.
"We had a great response after Friday's game," Cirovski said. "Our effort was very good. … Unfortunately, this is a strange game and VCU was incredibly efficient in their chances."
Indeed, the Terps came out of the gate stronger against the Rams than they had four days earlier with the Chanticleers in town.
But a 35-yard strike from Santos in the 22nd minute put the Rams up, 1-0, a similar spectacular effort to Coastal Carolina's bicycle-kick winner Friday.
"The first goal was just a tremendous play," Cirovski said. "To be able to put the ball over [St. Clair], that's a high-level play and credit to him."
At the end of the first half, VCU goalkeeper Mario Sequeira saved midfielder Jake Rozhansky's free header from eight yards in front of goal. Then, with 53 seconds left before halftime, Haji's cross found its way to Santos for his second score.
"The killer was at the end of the first half," Cirovski said. "That was the game-turning point right there."
The Terps didn't show the type of attack necessary to get back into the game, despite outshooting VCU, 5-3, in the second half and 13-8 overall. Three of the Terps' efforts were on goal, and VCU goalkeeper Mario Sequeira made the required saves to keep the Terps scoreless for the third consecutive game.
Still, those shots on goal — combined with forward Sebastian Elney hitting the post twice — showed the team's resilience and represented a step forward in some ways, Cirovski and Wild said.
"We just didn't make the plays, at the end of the day," Cirovski said. "They made a couple of high-level plays that were necessary to win and we didn't."
After the Coastal Carolina game, Campbell had hopes the team would compete more its next time on Ludwig Field.
Instead, the Terps, who have had national championship dreams ever since their shocking ouster in their first game of the NCAA tournament last year, hit a new low.
"There's still lots of things left to win this season," Wild said. "It's up to us to turn this around now."