Maryland men's soccer coach Sasho Cirovski was looking for a player to step up Friday night against No. 10 Stanford. He urged his team to strike first at home against the three-time defending champions.
Even with Ludwig Field rocking, it was a tall order against a team boasting a 16-game unbeaten streak that hadn't allowed a goal in eight consecutive games.
Despite finding more offensive success late in the game for the second straight week, Maryland (0-1-1) failed to score again in a 0-0 draw. The Terps haven't found the net in either of their two games this seasons.
Still, the result felt positive for an unranked team searching for an offensive identity.
"I thought we created some good chances," Cirovski said. "Unfortunately, we're still missing that final quality in the last 25 yards of the field. It's something that we're getting better at, but I loved the effort that our guys put out."
The Terps' best chance in regulation came in the 52nd minute, when forward Sebastian Elney swung in a cross into the Cardinal box. Forward DJ Reeves received the pass and connected with a defender closing in on him, but his shot missed the goal completely.
Most of the possession throughout the game came on Stanford's side of the field, which Cirovski anticipated with the Cardinal losing seven starters from a season ago. But promising scoring chances were sparse in the first half, as the two teams combined for just one shot on goal in the first 45 minutes.
Junior Paul Bin, in just his second career start, provided the Terps with speed on the left wing. He had several quick breaks deep into the defending third, but the Cardinal easily thwarted the threats inside the box.
The Terps have the talent, Elney says, but the finishing touch is still a work in progress.
"It's just that extra step, the last ball, that last shot," he said. "We'll sharpen them up, and the goals will come in."
Bin's volley on goal in the opening minutes of the game was one of only three that tested Stanford goalkeeper Andrew Thomas. Maryland goalie Dayne St. Clair didn't make a single save, although Stanford midfielder Logan Panchot struck the crossbar in the second minute on a free kick.
Maryland played a formation with two midfielders last week, a decision that backfired when the Terps fell behind 2-0 in the first half. Against Stanford, Cirovski added midfielder Eli Crognale to the lineup alongside Andrew Samuels and Amar Sejdic, and his team conceded just six shots in 110 minutes.
"Andrew was able to play [a position] which he's a little more comfortable in," St. Clair said. "There were some plays last week where we were technically in the wrong spots. We might've had that tonight, but I think we really made up for it with effort."
Until the final minute of regulation, Stanford (0-0-2) struggled to generate offense in front of an announced crowd of 5,802. The Cardinal got off two high-percentage shots inside the box in the 90th minute, but the Terps fought off the attack to force overtime.
Elney squandered Maryland's best chance for a walk-off goal, missing just above the crossbar in the 92nd minute as he went for his third career overtime winner at Ludwig. From there, neither team got a good look until the final whistle blew.
Even though no Terp was able to step up as Cirovski had hoped, he was still satisfied with the result.
"I think tonight was a positive step in the reidentification of Maryland soccer," Cirovski said. "I know the goals didn't come, and that's a part of Maryland soccer, and that's the next step for us … is to find ways to reward ourselves for some of the good work we're doing."