When Maryland wrestling 174-pounder Josh Ugalde pounded the mat in celebration of a victory, he urged his teammates to follow his lead. However, in the sunshine of an outdoor match at High Point Solutions Stadium in Piscataway, New Jersey, the Maryland wrestling team found few bright spots.
In the first half of a double-header with the schools' football programs, No. 12 Rutgers was too much for the Terps in their season opener, notching four bonus point victories.
The Scarlet Knights featured winners in five of the first six in their 27-9 victory.
"First one out of the gates, our guys have been training hard, but there was a little bit of nerves, a little bit of anxiety," coach Kerry McCoy said. "A lot of things went on there, but it's important to start the year off, and now we know where we are and what we need to work on."
The Terps (0-1) faced the gauntlet from the opening bout. Four Maryland wrestlers made their dual match debuts, and the first three to wrestle faced opponents ranked by InterMat Wrestling.
Two debutants, 125-pounder Brandon Cray and 133-pounder Michael Doetsch, opened the match against top-12 opponents. Cray faced No. 3 Nick Suriano and Doetsch matched up with No. 12 Scott Delvecchio.
Despite trailing by four after the first period, Cray lost by tech fall. Then, Doetsch dropped a decision.
With the losses, the Terps were in an 8-0 hole.
Despite 141-pounder and 14th-ranked Terp Ryan Diehl pulling out a victory, the Scarlet Knights (1-0) took the next three matches, two of them by bonus points. One included freshman 157-pounder Kyle Cochran, who lost by major decision to No. 8 Richie Lewis.
McCoy said Cochran perhaps gave Lewis too much respect.
"When our young guys are wrestling older guys, they kind of shrug that, 'Hey he's older, I've just got to go out there and scrap,'" McCoy said. "Our guys now have a little more talent, they've just got to match it with experience."
However, Ugalde, wrestling in his home state, stopped that streak. Thanks to a reversal and near fall, giving him six points in a quick sequence, he upset No. 16 Jordan Pagano, 8-3, slapping the map in attempt to rally his teammates.
"I think that's the first ranked guy [Ugalde's] ever beaten," McCoy said. "Big step in the right direction for him."
Despite Ugalde's efforts, the Terps couldn't overcome Rutgers' 20-6 advantage. Heavyweight Youssif Hemida snatched a victory in the final contest, but the match was out of reach by then.
McCoy wasn't that disappointed in the loss, as he acknowledged Rutgers' advantage on paper. However, he said the Terps need to take on the mentality to defeat highly ranked opponents.
"I told the guys that, in order for us to win, we had to beat some guys that we're not supposed to beat," McCoy said. "We're not supposed to beat this team…you do what you're expected to do, but the champions are the ones that rise above it."