Despite breaking the team record for most wins in a season, the UK men’s soccer team’s second loss of the season was all it took to end it.
The No. 3-seed Cats’ (19-2-1, 7-1 C-USA) season ended following a 1-0 upset by the No. 11-seed University of Maryland Terrapins (11-6-1, 4-4-0 B1G) in the Elite Eight on Friday night at The Bell for their first home loss this season.
The go-ahead goal for the Terps came from Sebastian Elney in the 28th minute. That goal helped the traditional powerhouse Terps advance to their 14th Final Four.
Maryland’s win ended the Cats’ 10-game winning streak that dated back to Oct. 13. UK’s appearance in the Elite Eight marked the farthest it had ever advanced in team history.
The first 15 minutes didn’t see much action aside from six combined fouls– four by UK. Marcel Meinzer shot an open look for the Cats’ in the 18th minute, but Terps’ goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair was there for his first save of the night.
Maryland caught an opportunity to score after driving into UK territory in the 28th minute. Multiple passes between the Terps threw the Cats off guard. Maryland’s Amar Sejdic’s laid the ball off to Elney. Elney finished off the senior-to-senior connection as the Terps scored on their first shot on goal of the game.
Maryland is 9-1 this season when it scores first. Elney’s score marked the third consecutive game that the Terps have scored on their first shot on goal of the game.
The goal conceded by the Cats’ goalkeeper Enrique Facusse was only the third goal conceded by the Cats this postseason.
The closest scoring opportunities for the Cats in the rest of the half came when Bailey Rouse missed a header over the goal along with offside call against J.J. Williams. A yellow card from Maryland’s Sebastian Elney following his goal would echo the physicality of the second half.
Seven minutes into the second half, Maryland’s Ben Di Rosa received a yellow card for his team’s second in the game. Less than three minutes later, Cats’ forward Jason Reyes drew one for his physical play against Maryland’s defense.
Williams capped off the tensions between both teams after he received a yellow card just four minutes later. He had received multiple warnings from the referees after some physical plays against Maryland’s Donovan Pines, who matched up against him most of the game.
Both teams combined for 35 fouls– 20 of them on the Cats.
Aime Mabika gave the Cats two close opportunities in the second half after he had two shots that barely missed the goal. One was a header that was just inches outside the goalpost and the other was a close header.
Williams and Reyes each missed some close shots in the half as well, but that wasn’t enough as the Terps were able to ward off the Cats. Both teams were even in shooting with nine shots per team.
Maryland will face either Indiana University or the University of Notre Dame in the College Cup next week.