Maryland and Notre Dame win to set up all-ACC final
Reigning player of the year Patrick Mullins put himself and his Maryland Terrapins in position to go out on top Friday night, scoring a brace to beat arch-rival Virginia and set up an all-ACC final on Sunday at PPL Park.
Maryland’s championship match-up with ACC newcomer Notre Dame, which beat New Mexico 2-0 in the first semifinal Friday night, will be their last in the conference as they depart next year for the Big 10.
The Irish, in their first College Cup appearance in program history, got a pair of goals from Patrick Hodan in each half to better the Conference USA regular season champs in front of 4,172 fans on a chilly night in Chester, Pa. The Lobos were frustrated all night trying to break down Notre Dame’s stingy defense; their attack appearing vibrant and promising on several occasions but lacking the final ball.
Harrison Shipp, a senior who like Mullins is a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy awarded to the top college player, registered assists on both goals to extend his magnificent senior season one more game. The Chicago Fire Academy product now has 12 goals and 10 assists on the season but still has his work cut out for him to overcome Maryland’s superstar (UCLA’s Leo Stolz is the other finalist for the award handed out Jan. 10).
Mullins sent the boisterous Terp supporters into a frenzy when he expertly chipped Virginia keeper Calle Brown 11 minutes into the game after receiving a perfectly lofted ball from Mikias Eticha and buried the winner in the 76th minute off another lofted ball from Tsubasa Endoh. The brace stretched his NCAA-leading goal tally to 18 and put him at 46 for his career.
Down 2-0, Virginia made things interesting late when Todd Wharton pulled a goal back from the penalty stripe in the 77th minute and nearly found an equalizer in the 88th minute through Brian James, who had his low drive stopped by a spectacular one-handed diving save by Terp goalkeeper Zack Steffen.
The showcase game of the night wasn’t just a rematch of the ACC tournament championship Maryland won on an own goal, but a homecoming for Philadelphia Union Academy products Steffen, a Downingtown native, and Virginia forward Darius Madison, of Philadelphia. Madison was a handful all night with his attacking runs and nearly leveled the game in the 49th minute when he blasted a shot Steffen got just enough of to push it off the post and out of bounds. Steffen finished the night with five saves.
Sunday’s final will be the second all-ACC final in College Cup history. The last time it happened, Maryland beat North Carolina 1-0 in the final for the school’s third national championship.
Maryland and Notre Dame last met on Oct. 8 in a game in South Bend that ended in a 1-1 draw.