Dec. 4, 2004
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Sophomore midfielder A.J. Godbolt scored on a header in the 73rd minute to lead Maryland to a 1-0 win over St. John's Saturday afternoon in front of 4, 404 fans at Ludwig Field (the second-largest in field history). With the win, the Terps advance to the College Cup for the third straight year. Maryland will face the winner of Indiana-Tulsa on Friday, Dec. 10, at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
"It was a great game," head coach Sasho Cirovski. "St. John's is a great team, very disciplined, very technical. You couldn't put a better stage out here for college soccer.
"It's an exhilarating feeling," Cirovski said of going to the College Cup for the third straight year. "It's so hard to get there once in a single-game elimination competition, and it was difficult for us to get back there last year when we were expected to be there. People didn't know what to expect from this team at the beginning of this year, but we knew that we were a great team with a chance to be one of the greatest ever at Maryland."
As he did in last season's national semifinal, Red Storm goalkeeper Bill Gaudette kept St. John's in the game by stopping several good Maryland attempts. Gaudette made four saves in the first half to keep the Terps scoreless. The Red Storm were able to manage just four shots in the first 45 minutes, none of which were on frame.
In the second half, the Terps continued to keep the pressure on, forcing the game to be played in the St. John's half. The Red Storm nearly broke the scoreless tie in the 60th minute when Matt Groenwald took a long feed from Andrei Gotsmanov on a counter-attack. The well-timed pass allowed Groenwald to get behind the Terp back line but Terp goalkeeper Noah Palmer maintained his position and was able to stop the shot.
Maryland's relentless pressure paid off when Domenic Mediate controlled the ball in the left corner. Mediate sent his cross to the far post where Godbolt was able to connect on a header from six yards out for the score at 72:03.
"I saw Dom on the left side and the ball coming over, and everyone kind of watched go over, and I just pushed by my guy and tried to head it on goal," Godbolt said. "Luckily it bounced between the keepers' legs."
"I'm really proud of A.J.," Cirovski said. "He had a difficult freshman year with injuries, redshirted last year and for him to come in a game like this and become the hero for us is a testament to his character, resiliency and his growth as a player."
The goal was Godbolt's second of the season and his first since the second game of the season against Marshall. Maryland's go-to performer in the tournament, Mediate came up big again - five times in Maryland's nine NCAA Tournament wins over the past three seasons, Mediate has come up with either the game-winner or the game-winning assist.
After the score, the Red Storm turned up the intensity on the offensive end and created some chances. St. John's only managed to fire two shots in the final 18 minutes, but kept pressing forward. The Terp team defense was up to the task, though, clearing the ball out of dangerous positions and heading out crosses. Maryland has posted a shutout in each of its NCAA Tournament games.
The Terps will face the winner of defending national champion Indiana and Tulsa, which will be played on Sunday at 1 p.m.