Notre Dame, Maryland to play for title
CHESTER, Pa. -- Patrick Mullins scored his 17th and 18th goals of the season to lead Maryland to a 2-1 victory over Virginia in the NCAA men's soccer semifinals Friday night at PPL Park.
The Terrapins (17-3-5) will vie for their third national championship in the last nine years when they face Notre Dame -- a 2-0 winner over New Mexico in the first semifinal -- in the title game Sunday.
Maryland goalie Zack Steffen, from the Philadelphia area, finished with five saves, including a diving stop on Brian James with less than three minutes remaining to preserve the win.
"Before the game started, I said it's going to take a special moment by a special player," Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski said. "And Patrick Mullins found two special passes and had two great finishes. And Zack came up with a great save at the end that very few keepers can make."
Mullins scored in the 11th and the 76th minutes, receiving perfectly lofted through balls on both goals -- the first from Mikias Eticha and the second from Tsubasa Endoh.
Mullins, a finalist to win his second straight MAC Hermann Trophy as the nation's best player, leads Division I in scoring this season and is second in Maryland history with 46 goals. The Terps have lost only once in four years when Mullins scores.
"As a forward, all you can do is make hard runs and hope the balls get there," Mullins said. "When you have great players feeding you the ball, more times than not they're going to get there. Tonight we got two great services and I made sure to put them away."
Virginia (13-6-5) got on the board after Maryland's Dan Metzger took down Marcus Salandy-Defour in the box and Todd Wharton scored the ensuing penalty kick in the 77th minute.
At that point, Mullins, projected to be one of the top overall picks in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft next month, delivered a message to his team.
"I just looked all the guys in the eyes and I said, 'Boys, we just need to relax and remain focused on what we're doing,'" Mullins said. "I thought we were a little unfortunate on the PK, but I thought the whole game defensively we were good."
The Cavaliers, who also lost to perennial rival Maryland in the ACC championship game last month, had other chances to score. In the 49th minute, Philadelphia native Darius Madison blasted a shot that Steffen saved, with the ball then careening off the post.
Steffen and Madison are both products of the Philadelphia Union youth academy system and had many of their friends and family in attendance at PPL Park, the Union's home stadium.
"We actually got beat by two guys," Virginia coach George Gelnovatch said. "The goalkeeper and No. 15 (Mullins). And I think we outplayed the rest of their team."
Notre Dame 2, New Mexico 0
Patrick Hodan led Notre Dame to its first NCAA men's soccer final, scoring twice in the Fighting Irish semifinal victory Friday night.
Notre Dame (16-1-6) will face Maryland in the title game Sunday. Maryland beat Virginia 2-1 in the second semifinal.
Hodan has scored in six straight games, the last four in the NCAA tournament, and has 11 goals this season.
"He's a little guy," Notre Dame coach Bobby Clark said. "But he's Superman when he puts on a uniform. ... He's a special talent and a special kid."
Harrison Shipp, a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy as the nation's best player, assisted on both goals.
Shipp, who has 12 goals and 10 assists this season, controlled the tempo in the middle of the field to -- frustrate the Lobos defense.
"Coming into this year, we had one ultimate goal: to bring the program to the final four and win a national championship," Shipp said. "And I think we've assembled the right group of guys. I don't think we have any weaknesses on the field."
In the seventh minute, Shipp shook off a defender, made a couple of moves and found Hodan in the box for a shot that snapped New Mexico's shutout streak at 317 minutes.
"They actually tried to foul me," Shipp said. "They grabbed me from behind. I think I just kind of spun out of it and they thought, I'm pretty sure, that the ref was going to call a foul. The guy kind of froze and then I saw Patrick making a run. And it worked out perfectly."
The Irish, making their first College Cup appearance, scored again in the 65th minute when Hodan pounced on a rebound in the box after Vince Cicciarelli hit the crossbar.
"I wish I could say we were at our best today, but I think we were all disappointed with our performance," New Mexico coach Jeremy Fishbein said. "It was because Notre Dame was good -- that's part of it -- but I just didn't feel like we had it today."
Goalkeeper Patrick Wall made five saves to blank the Lobos (14-6-2), while Notre Dame's backline, as well as defensive midfielder Nick Besler, helped limit New Mexico's opportunities.
Besler's brother, Matt, won the MLS Cup with Sporting Kansas City last weekend and is getting married Saturday. Nick will have to miss the wedding -- but for good reason.
"I think our whole backline and Nick Besler all have confidence when we get a shutout," Wall said. "We're all looking forward to the next game. At the beginning of the season, we didn't set out to get to the final. We set out to win the whole thing."
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press
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