BALTIMORE – The Maryland men’s soccer team brought home the program’s fourth national title on Dec. 9 with a 1-0 victory over Akron in the NCAA Championship match at Santa Barbara, California.
Senior midfielder Amar Sejdic scored the game’s lone goal in the 57th minute – on a penalty kick – and that held up as Maryland edged Akron for the first national title in 10 years.
“I could not be more proud of this group,” Terrapins Head Coach Sasho Cirovski said. “We talked about this being a big moment for our program. They were pushed and hardened after a challenging schedule. And now, they’re jewels. I am incredibly happy for them.”
After a scoreless first half, a penalty kick was called after midfield Colin Biros’s attempted clearance resulted in kicking Maryland’s Johannes Bergmann in the penalty area. Sejdic’s penalty kick flew into the bottom right corner of the net while Akron goalie Ben Lundt guessed incorrectly, diving to his left. It was Sejdic’s eighth goal of the season.
Moments later, the Terrapins had a chance to increase their lead after another penalty kick was called. However, Lindt guessed left and stopped Sejdic. Maryland played with an extra man advantage for the final 10 minutes after Zips’ Carlo Ritaccio drew a red card.
Maryland staggered at the start of this season as they played the third hardest schedule in the country, but Cirovski and his Terps turned around in time for the College Cup. The Terrapins shut out all five of their tournament opponents thanks to the strong play of Canadian goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair and junior defender Donovan Pines, who was a force in the box throughout the tournament.
Under Cirovski, the Terps have now won three national titles, including in 2005 and 2008.
Redskins Bench Sanchez, Fall to New York
The Washington Redskins have fallen a long way in a short period of time.
Four weeks ago, they were 6-3, thinking about the playoffs and possibly even winning the NFC East. But those times have changed as Washington now has dropped four straight games, the worst of which came on Dec. 9, as the New York Giants rolled to a 40-16 victory.
That dropped the Redskins to 6-7 and probably killed any playoff chances they still had. Also, the team – which lost starting quarterback Alex Smith and back-up Colt McCoy to broken legs – turned to Mark Sanchez to start this game in hopes of keeping their season going.
Sanchez played so poorly that Head Coach Jay Gruden pulled him in the third quarter as the Giants were en route to a 40-0 lead. The quarterback completed six of 14 for 38 yards and was picked off twice.
Gruden replaced him with recently-signed Josh Johnson. How bad is the quarterback situation now for Washington? Sanchez last started in the NFL in 2015 before this game.
“It was tough sledding, for sure,” Sanchez said.
Then, Gruden turned to Johnson. He last was in an NFL game five years ago and last threw a pass in 2011.
Johnson completed 11 of 16 for 195 yards and one touchdown. He also ran for another score but the Giants had long since locked up this game.
The question now is who plays quarterback for the Redskins. Stay tuned.
Caps Rebound and Win Three Straight Games
The Washington Capitals are on a three-game winning streak after defeating Detroit Red Wings 6-2 on Dec. 11 after returning home from a four-game road-trip. Alexander Ovechkin registered a hat-trick to extend his point streak to 12 games.
Before their return home win, the Capitals visited Columbus on Dec. 8 to face the Blue Jackets. When they were last in Ohio, the Capitals were celebrating a victory that let them move on to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs last spring.
This trip also proved to be enjoyable as Washington shut down the Blue Jackets on offense and rolled to a 4-0 victory. Ovechkin and Travis Boyd each finished with a goal and an assist. Goalie Braden Holtby was solid in net and ended up with 28 saves for his second shutout this season.
The streak began after the Capitals defeated Arizona 4-2 on Dec. 6. Washington had just lost back-to-back games, including at Las Vegas 5-3 in their first trip back to the site of where they won the Stanley Cup last spring.