CHESTER, Pa. - Patrick Mullins scored two spectacular goals to lead the Maryland men’s soccer team past rival Virginia 2-1 in the 2013 NCAA College Cup semifinals at PPL Park Friday night.
The Terrapins (17-3-5) will advance to their sixth national title game against Notre Dame on Sunday. Zack Steffen backed up Mullins with an outstanding night between the sticks, stopping five Cavalier shots.
After an even start, Mullins opened the scoring in the 11th minute with a beautiful 20-yard chip. Mikias Eticha served a ball over the top that Mullins latched onto and flicked above an onrushing Calle Brown for his 17th goal of the season.
The Terps stayed stout defensively for the remainder of the half. Outside backs Mikey Ambrose and Jeremy Raley combined with centerbacks Suli Dainkeh and Chris Odai-Atsem to control the threat of Darius Madison and Jordan Allen.
Mullins had a chance to double the lead early in the second half. Schillo Tshuma put the senior in with a pretty pass, but the New Orleans native sent his left-footed attempt high.
Just seconds later, Steffen combined with the post to keep the Terps ahead. Allen ripped a shot from inside the box that the freshman keeper was able to parry onto the post.
The Cavaliers took control of the match after the Allen attempt. The ever-active Madison blasted the ball against the post from a tight angle with 25 minutes to go.
In the 76th minute, Mullins found his second. Tsubasa Endoh received the ball on the right flank and lofted a pinpoint to Mullins who took the ball between two defenders on the first bounce and volleyed into the right corner.
The goal was Mullins’ nation-leading 18th of the season and put him in second on the Maryland all-time goals list with 46.
The Virginia pressure finally sliced the Maryland lead in half in the 77th minute. Dan Metzger’s challenge gave the Cavs a penalty that Todd Wharton calmly stroked past Mullins.
The Terps’ defense kept the Cavilers at bay for the remainder of the match, with Steffen providing the highlight. The Pennsylvania native stretched far to his right to make an amazing one-handed save on a Brian James shot in the 88th minute.
“We’re extremely excited to advance and have a chance to play on Sunday. This was – I don’t want to say typical or not typical, it was just a different Maryland‐Virginia game. Before the game started, I said it was going to take a special moment by a special player. You’re looking to my right, Patrick Mullins, who found two special passes and had two great finishes,” head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “Zack [Steffen] came up with a great save at the end that very few keepers can make. We’re a young team, we’re resilient and we’re talented.
“There were times tonight that maybe we couldn’t play our best soccer, but I thought our commitment, particularly in transition, was very good. We stood strong at the time when Virginia made a strong push, and I’m really proud of what this team has done. This team is one of the most connected teams I’ve ever coached. They love each other, they’re a bunch of gym rats and I know they didn’t want the season to end today. They love playing with each other. We’re delighted that we have a chance to play Sunday against a great Notre Dame team.”
Maryland’s appearance in the title game marks its first since 2008. The Terrapins - who are seeking their fourth national championship - are now 32-1-5 in matches Mullins scores a goal. Maryland will face third seed Notre Dame at 3 p.m. on ESPNU Sunday.