Nov. 29, 2009

Courtesy of Maryland

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Zac MacMath made five critical saves to aid the Maryland men's soccer team to a win against No. 10 seed Harvard, 2-0, in the third round of the 2009 NCAA Men's Soccer Championship Sunday.

Maryland (15-5-2) moved its record to 12-0 when scoring first when Casey Townsend scored the game-winner at 10:45. After Billy Cortes battled down the near sideline, Taylor Kemp found the ball at his feet and shook a Crimson defender at the corner flag. Kemp then crossed the ball into the center of the box for Townsend, whose strike wedged in between the top of keeper Austin Harms' hands and the cross bar for a 1-0 Maryland lead. The goal is the sophomore forward's sixth of the 2009 campaign and second in NCAA Tournament play.

With 12 minutes remaining in the first half, Maryland keeper Zac MacMath was tagged with a foul on the left side of the box when he clashed with Crimson two-time All-American Andre Akpan. Akpan's ensuing penalty kick was saved by MacMath on the ground then again in the air on Akpan's rebound attempt to keep Harvard at nil.

Though Maryland controlled possession for the majority of the second half, neither squad had a great deal of legitimate scoring chances with both backlines remaining steadfast, especially early on in the period. In the 51st minute, Drew Yates put together a nice run when he drove the ball a solid 25 yards past two separate Crimson defensive stands and shuffled a ball over to Townsend just inside the box but Townsend's shot was blocked.

Cortes, who had to leave the field early in the second stanza after a clear attempt blasted off the side of his head, provided Maryland with an insurance goal when his long-range strike from almost 30 yards out sailed past Harms to his left for a Terrapin two-goal advantage at 77:22. The goal is Cortes' third of the year and his second in the last two matches.

Crimson defender Richard Smith nearly cut Maryland's lead in half with nine minutes remaining in the match, but MacMath made a leaping save to knock the ball over the cross bar.

Reigning national champion Maryland outshot Harvard 15-12 on the match, including a decisive 12-5 advantage in the second half. The shutout win is Maryland's ninth this season. The Terps are now 42-23-4 in NCAA Tournament history and have advanced to the NCAA Elite Eight six times in the last eight years.

"It was muddy, the winds were strong, and we faced a very talented and well-coached Harvard team today," head coach Sasho Cirovski said. "I'm very proud of our team...I thought our preparation was outstanding and that we had a strong sense of confidence."

Maryland will battle a very familiar foe when it faces No. 2 seed Virginia in Charlottesville for the third time this season Friday at 7 p.m. Virginia dethroned defending ACC champion Maryland, 1-0, in the quarterfinals of this year's ACC Tournament in Cary, N.C. in the last meeting between the two storied programs.