The Maryland men’s soccer team will be headed to the College Cup (NCAA final four) for the 13th time in school history. A very, very hard-fought win over California in Berkeley on Saturday moved the team forward. The victory avenged a 3-2 defeat at the same place on September 1st and is one of the three losses in UMD’s record of 16-3-5.
The game started with Maryland on the attack for the first 10 minutes … the appearance being that Cal was simply letting the Terps run themselves ragged. Suddenly the pace quickened and a Cal shot hit the right goal post, ricocheted across the goal mouth and hit the left post, bouncing out to Mikey Ambrose who cleared it.
Moments later the Terps would strike first at 32:57, as Ambrose lifted a free kick from just outside the penalty box at the right end line and onto the head of Alex Shinsky – who put it in at the near post. The screen shot picture at the top shows Shinsky between defenders. Note all 11 Cal players in the picture … noting also that on this free kick (which was essentially a short corner) Cal did not position defenders at the posts – which surely cost them.
At 49:44, Cal evened the score. UMD keeper Zack Steffen made a point-blank save in a crowd of players, but Stefano Bonomo (a name I wished I had!) was able to tap in the rebound.
The pressure of the Golden Bears offense was relentless from that point forward. The young Terps defense was up to the task however, saving one attack after another. It did not look good for Maryland at all, as honestly, the Cal team appeared to have the greater skills, and all the momentum was toward a finale that would send the Golden Bears into the national semifinals.
But a powerful blast at 85:41 from Michael Sauers beat the Cal keeper, and the Terps are on their way to the final four in Philly. This was a game where Maryland found a way to win over a very, very good team.
Maryland (#5) will play (yes, again) Virginia (#8) in the semis on Friday in Philly. The winner will meet the victor of the Notre Dame (#2) and New Mexico (#7) game.
Also in UMD soccer news, Senior Patrick Mullins has been named as a semifinalist for the 2013 MAC Hermann Trophy. He was the winner of the award in 2012. This year he has 16 goals and eight assists, and is #3 all-time in Terps history with 43 goals. The MAC Hermann Trophy is the highest individual intercollegiate award – similar to the Heisman in football.