Maryland redshirt junior goalkeeper Cody Niedermeier responded to an onslaught of shots by UCLA with several diving saves, including a few from point-blank range.
After the Terps men's soccer team eventually beat the then-top-ranked Bruins, 2-1, Sept. 4, Niedermeier, 21, joined his teammates for a raucous celebration at sold-out Ludwig Field. The moment was especially sweet for Niedermeier, who overcame two season-ending injuries to make his first start in front of the home fans who devotedly call themselves "The Crew."
"I think the key to coming back from all those injuries was the fact that I refused to let myself get frustrated," Niedermeier said. "Once an injury happens, it is over and done with. You can't go back and fix it. I just tried to focus on getting back and healthy every day, and the coaches, teammates, ‘The Crew' and my family helped me keep that positive mentality."
Niedermeier has shined this season for Maryland, which is trying to defend its Big Ten title and make another run at a national championship. Niedermeier recorded four shutouts during his first five starts this season.
"Cody's leadership and positioning was solid," Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski said of his goalkeeper's performance during that stretch.
Niedermeier played at Broadneck High School, where he was named All-State for three consecutive seasons. He was also named to the 2011 National Small College Athletic Association High School Scholar All-American team and earned a scholarship to play at Maryland, one of the premier college soccer programs in the nation.
From there, though, Niedermeier had to fight through several injuries. He was dealing with a pre-existing wrist injury prior to his freshman year that eventually required a pair of screws to be inserted. Prior to his sophomore year, Niedermeier injured his knee playing a pickup game. Doctors diagnosed him with a dislocated kneecap, torn cartilage and ligament damage, keeping him out seven months.
Niedermeier, however, was determined to get back on the field and take advantage of his opportunity at Maryland.
"I kept a positive mindset to return by just remembering what soccer has brought to my life," Niedermeier said. "The best times I have had have been because of soccer, and by no means was I ever going to give that up. There really is no feeling like being out on the field with your closest friends and playing a game you all love."
Preparation for this season started the day he had surgery last year. He received multiple treatments a day and also spent extra time working on his fitness, lifting weights and practicing throughout the spring and summer. Niedermeier played on the D.C. United U-23 team to gain more game experience, in addition to playing pickup games every night.
So far, all the hard work has paid off, as Niedermeier has shined in goal and has not experienced any injury setbacks. His comeback hasn't surprised anyone, especially Broadneck head coach Sean Tettemer.
"He has definitely paid his dues, and it is very refreshing to see someone remain patient and confident in their abilities," Tettemer said. "It's really a credit to both Cody and the Maryland coaching staff to be able to maintain a relationship through injuries, development of players and recruits. It's not easy to perform your best or to see the best in someone when they may not be contributing on the field. I admire Cody and the coaching staff for having the patience to grow and put the development of the program ahead of individual interest."
Niedermeier's goals at Maryland extend beyond the soccer field. He plans to earn his marketing degree from the Robert H. Smith School of Business next fall and then possibly move on to graduate school.
"It may come as a surprise to some people, but I enjoy school and even consider myself a bit of a nerd," Niedermeier said.