NCAA men’s soccer: No. 1 Maryland 1, Virginia 0

Top-ranked Maryland’s 1-0 win over Virginia on Friday in College Park fittingly captured the state of the two fierce ACC rivals and the college game itself.

The Terrapins (9-0-1, 4-0-0 ACC) moved within two games of matching last season’s program-best 11-0-1 start and avenged the defeat in Charlottesville that ended that streak. The young and rebuilding Cavaliers (5-5-1, 1-3-0), mired in the middle of the country’s toughest schedule, suffered their fourth one-goal defeat of the season.

In a typically physical match, Maryland’s high-octane offense found the back of the net only once for the first time all year. Terps coach Sasho Cirovski was happier about a shutout that came without goalkeeper Keith Cardona having to make a single save.

“I was really pleased with our overall defending,” Cirovski said. “This was one of our goals going into the second half of the season, and I think that was probably our most complete defensive effort of the year.”

Maryland went ahead in the 26th minute via Patrick Mullins’ sixth goal of the year.

On a direct ball out of the defense, freshman Schillo Tshuma (Episcopal High) held off a defender to flick the ball perfectly between a pair of Virginia defenders. Mullins burst through the back line at the same time and calmly finished past Spencer LaCivita.

“We’ve been combining well all week in practice,” Mullins said. “We wanted to keep doing that, translate it onto the field.”

Sunny Jane played an inspired second half for the Terrapins, who were disappointed not to have unlocked LaCivita (six saves) again. Jane, Tshuma and Jake Pace all had chances that were denied or should’ve been on frame.

The Cavaliers remain a work in progress. Unable to generate much in the run of play as the game wore on, their best chance to equalize came off a corner kick in the 62nd minute. Freshman Marcus Salandy-Defour (Georgetown Prep) redirected a header across the goal mouth but fellow freshman Darius Madison nodded his shot off target from point blank range.

“It’s a different tone and a different kind of mentality that I’m taking and the staff is taking because they’re so young,” Cavaliers coach George Gelnovatch said. “Tonight they fought really hard. I have absolutely no problem.”

But the differences in the sides were displayed by more than just their records and the score line.

Virginia subjected five freshmen starters to the relentless crowd of 4,846 at Ludwig Field, as hostile environment as any in the country. Maryland started three freshmen as well, but the Terrapins were buoyed by their incredible depth, going seven deep on the bench to just three substitutes used by the Cavaliers.

The substitute rule in NCAA soccer remains a controversial one unique to the college game. An unlimited number of players can be substituted in the first half but can’t re-enter until after halftime. They can also be subbed and re-enter during the second half.

“I couldn’t keep up with it,” Gelnovatch said. “It makes it tough. To me, it was flying so fast primarily because of all of the subs.”

Maryland had a total of 181 minutes played by substitutes, more than double the 86 combined reserve minutes for Virginia.

“It’s a little bit of what we’ve done all year,” Cirovski said. “We have a lot of depth. We also know we have a lot of games coming up so to rotate players, it’s about reward, and it’s also about keeping guys fresh. We’re using it to our advantage at the moment.”