After disastrous start, Maryland resets its identity

Maryland is back.

The Terrapins, who struggled in the last two NCAA Tournaments, beat No. 3 seed Kentucky, 1-0, to return to the Men's College Cup for the 14th time.

In 2016, Maryland was 18-0-2 when it fell to Providence, 5-4, after leading 4-1 in the 70th minute in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

In 2017, the Terrapins lost to Albany on penalty kicks in the NCAA Tournament after losing its last five games of the regular season.

They opened the 2018 season without a goal in their first four games, extending their winless streak to 10 games over two seasons, but they slowly turned things around.

Maryland was only 8-6-4 and just 4-4-0 in the Big Ten, but its strength of schedule was so good it was awarded a No. 11 seed. The 1-0 win at The Bell -- where Kentucky had won all 12 games it previously played in 2018 -- followed a 2-0 victory at No. 6 Duke in the third round.

"For our program, this is a big moment," Terrapins coach Sasho Cirovski said. "We struggled the last couple years in the NCAA Tournament and we challenged this team to reset the identity and bring back the Maryland quality, and this team has done that. You saw a team tonight that was battle tested and understood the challenge and met it. As a result, we have a chance to keep playing and I couldn't be more proud of them."

A pair of seniors, both MLS academy products, teamed up for the only goal in the 29th minute. Sebastian Elney (Philadelphia Union) scored in the 29th minute from 18 yards out after taking a pass from Amar Sejdic (Real Salt Lake).

"We do it all the time in practice," Elney, the former U.S. U-17, said "Amar is a great player. He had a great play there. I knew exactly where to go when he got the ball. He played it perfectly. I just took my touch and let it go far post and it went in and we celebrated like it was the national championship."

Nov. 30 in Lexington, Ky.
Kentucky 0 Maryland 1. Goals: Elney (Sejdic) 29.
Kentucky -- Facusse, Jones, Mabika, Hummel, Guidon, Meinzer, Fremstad, Rouse, Elmedkhar, Reyes, Williams. Sub: Stockton.
Maryland -- St. Clair, Pines, Bergmann, Di Rosa, Gasper, Sejdic, Samuels, Bin, Crognale, Herve, Elney. Subs: Reeves, Matzelevich, Di Rosa.
Att.: 3,228.
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