The Maryland Terrapins earned their first win of the season thanks to a pulsating 3-1 win over ACC rival Duke in front of a record 8,397 fans at College Park.
Duke had taken the lead in the 25th minute thanks to a free kick from midfielder Sean Davis from 28 yards out that crept in past Maryland goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
However, the hosts turned things around dramatically in the second half thanks to goals from Tsubasa Endoh, Helge Leikvang and captain Patrick Mullins.
After the game, Maryland’s Head Coach Sasho Cirovski was full of praise for the support for his side from the fans, who packed out Ludwig Field for the largest ever attendance in the college’s men’s soccer history.
“It was one of the great, magical nights in Maryland soccer history,” he said. “The support by the student body and all the Maryland soccer community is just amazing. It’s humbling and to see it continue to grow like this is a source of pride.”
The Terps had been largely dominant in the first half but found themselves 1-0 down thanks to Davis’ free kick. However, Cirovski was pleased to see his team recover and refuse to let their spirits drop despite the disappointing half-time scoreline.
“I thought our team grew up a lot tonight, I thought we played a full 90 minutes,” he said. “We were unlucky to be down in the first half, we had some good chances, we stayed positive and we came out on fire in the second half.
“I thought our discipline was outstanding today, we didn’t give many fouls away, we didn’t make many mistakes, and staying tuned into the whole process is important. When you put on a Maryland soccer shirt, you give your best game. We did our best and we came back.
“We’re still a work in progress, but we got a little tougher today, a little better and got rewarded with a good result.”
After Endoh scored the equalizer for the home side, midfielder HelgeLeikvang was on hand to give his team the lead in the 64th minute, and the senior was delighted to make such a big impact in front of the vocal home support.
“I had goosebumps from even before the game, and I probably still have goosebumps,” Leikvang said after the game. “It was an amazing night and a great game for us and our program. There’s nothing that comes close to that.
“I didn’t start the first two games so it was good to get in there and get a good game and especially the go-ahead goal, that felt really good. It gave us confidence after falling behind and then we just kept grinding and I was lucky enough to get the one for the team.”
The Terps scored their third goal thanks to captain and defending MAC Hermann Trophy winner Patrick Mullins, whose low finish just two minutes after Leikvang’s goal gave the hosts the cushion they wanted.
“I think that third goal there was real important,” Mullins said. “At 2-1 if they get a goal they’re right back in it and it’s a real tough game again, so we just wanted to keep going after that third goal.
“We knew that we had played well up to that point but the game wasn’t over and we wanted to play a full 90 minutes so I think that third goal was important.”
Mullins was another who was keen to praise the superb support at Ludwig Field, in an atmosphere that some said was perhaps unlike any other in college soccer.
“I didn’t want the game to end,” he added. “I’ve been here for four years, and this was hands-down the best atmosphere I’ve played in at any point in any time.
“We have such a great program here, great coaches but the reason why this is a dream place for players to come and play is because of these people out here. They showed that tonight. We have the best fans in the country and they come out every week.”
The Terps next face Virginia Commonwealth University on Sunday, September 8 hoping to improve further on their current record of 1-1-1.
Chris Teale is a contributing writer for College Soccer News. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @chris_teale.