Maryland men win ACC tourney final on heartbreaking late UVa own goal
By Nick Cammarota
Special to SoccerWire.com
BOYDS, Md. – Playing in their final ACC tournament before moving to the Big 10, the University of Maryland men’s soccer team clinched back-to-back titles Sunday afternoon at the Maryland SoccerPlex by virtue of an own goal by the University of Virginia in the 88th minute.
The top-seeded Terrapins’ 1-0 victory marked the sixth ACC tournament championship in program history and their fourth in the last six years, while No. 6-seeded Virginia saw their inspired run fall short in the cruelest possible way.
On the goal, Maryland’s leading scorer, senior forward Patrick Mullins, dribbled deep toward the end line after beating a defender. As he entered the box, he crossed to the middle where the ball deflected off Cavaliers defender Kevin McBride and into the center of the goal as goalkeeper Calle Brown watched helplessly.
The teams played to a 3-3 draw the first time they met in October in Charlottesville. In that match, the clubs combined to score six goals in the opening 27 minutes. This time, however, the scoring chances were far more limited.
Mullins – who scored twice in that October match and was named the ACC tournament MVP – didn’t even attempt a shot until the 84th minute, but made the most of his late run into the box.
Maryland (13-3-5, 8-1-3 ACC) improved to 4-2-1 against Virginia in ACC championship matches and 39-29-9 against the Cavaliers overall. Prior to this loss in regulation, the Cavaliers (10-5-5, 4-4-4) had played in five consecutive overtime matches in the ACC tournament. That appeared to be the direction in which this one was headed until Mullins’ late cross deflected into the goal.
Sasho Cirovski’s team did not direct their first shot on goal until the 55th minute, when freshman midfielder Michael Sauers, the hero from UMd’s semifinals win against Clemson on Friday, crossed to junior midfielder Mikias Eticha, who forced Brown to make a straightforward save.
Two minutes later, Sauers dribbled into the box and again ripped a shot which the 6-foot-5 Brown handled with ease. Brown used his size to his advantage throughout the overcast afternoon as he frequently intercepted Maryland’s services before they became dangerous.
George Gelnovatch’s side nearly opened the scoring in the 49th minute when Virginia junior forward Ryan Zinkhan spun in the box and tried a right-footed volley that trickled wide of the far post. Their chances beyond that point, however, were extremely limited.
The Terrapins (No. 9 in the NCAA RPI rankings) controlled possession for a majority of the first half, but none of their opportunities were particularly dangerous. The Cavaliers (No. 13 in RPI) actually outshot the Terps 2-1 in the opening 45 despite Maryland winning three corners to Virginia’s none. On the match, Virginia outshot Maryland 6-5, while Maryland won four corners to the Cavaliers’ one.
Virginia’s best opportunity of the first half (and the only shot on goal) came when sophomore forward Darius Madison chipped one on goal from the left side of the box that Terrapins goalkeeper Zack Steffen calmly stopped.
The bleachers were filled on both sides for the mid-afternoon affair featuring two local favorites, and the grassy knoll behind the goal at the south end of the stadium played home to “The Crew,” Maryland’s vocal student supporters’ section.