The Real Maryland soccer team is still very much in contention for the first postseason berth in club history.
On Thursday — in sweltering heat at Richard Montgomery High School — the Monarchs defeated Northern Virginia, 1-0, to move into second place and the final playoff spot in Premier Development League's South Atlantic Division. The victory also halted a two-game winless streak.
The top two teams in the division will qualify for the PDL tournament. The Carolina Dynamo is solidly in first place with 30 points. Real Maryland (7-4-3, 24 points) will likely control its own path to the PDL tournament with two regular season matches remaining. The Monarchs will play host to Fredericksburg at 5 p.m. Sunday, and then will host the team they're battling with for a playoff spot — the West Virginia Chaos — on July 15.
Thursday night against the Royals (4-5-3, 15 points), Real Maryland never trailed despite several sloppy plays and defensive lapses. The Monarchs also managed just two shots on target and none in the second half.
“I think we got lucky today,” said forward Aboubacarim “Mbaye” Ndaw. “The team wasn't doing a very good job today, but we got three points. We need them to make the playoffs and we won so that's all that matters.
In the 23rd minute, Ndaw, a Rockville resident, provided all the scoring Real Maryland would need off a rebound following a free kick.
“I was in the right place at the right time,” Ndaw said. “Their guy was going to head the ball and I was like, 'I think it will bounce to me.' I moved a little and it landed right in front of me. I got lucky and had a lane.”
Northern Virginia dictated much of the pace for most of the match and had several prime scoring opportunities, but was never able to connect for a goal. In turn, Real Maryland goalkeeper Dustin Butcher made four saves, including a key stop off a breakaway midway through the second half.
David Neuberth, who is second in the PDL with 10 goals and 23 points, was held to a rare scoreless game.
“A couple guys are hurt and we were tired because it was so hot,” Ndaw said. “We have to be better. We have to win the last two games.”