Oh the places I would like to go in political speech with that headline! But this is a sports blog, so I need to stick to the O’Malley of Notre Dame who scored the decisive goal to defeat the Terps 2-1 Sunday afternoon in the NCAA National Championship finals in Philadelphia.
The national title is the first for the Fighting Irish, while Maryland was attempting to win their third in the past eight years, and fourth overall.
Maryland tallied the initial score in the 35th minute of the first half, as Patrick Mullins finished a scramble in the box with a left-foot score. The ball came to his feet off a rebound from a shot by Alex Shinsky that was stopped by the arm and shoulder of Notre Dame back Patrick Hodan. The non-call would have eventuated in a penalty kick and a red card, and along with another missed Irish hand ball in the second half on a UMD corner will cause this game to be long-remembered as a controversial and poorly-officiated affair.
Before this day, the Terps had a record of 32-1-5 when Mullins scores. But in the end, Notre Dame was able to score twice on set pieces, even as UMD held a 10-4 edge in corners that were disappointing in execution.
The Irish would equal the score just five minutes after Mullin’s strike when Nick Besler would flick a header off a long throw-in from Luke Mishu to Leon Brown for a sliding score past UMD keeper Zack Steffen. Brown was in the game as a substitute for junior forward Vince Cicciarelli – who was injured early in what was reported to be a probable broken collarbone.
The ultimate winning goal was scored by Notre Dame’s Andrew O’Malley in the 60th minute. The College Cup’s “Most Outstanding Player” Harrison Shipp served a perfect restart kick to the head of O’Malley – who maneuvered perfectly through traffic to guide the ball past Steffen.
Having watched all of UMD’s games in the playoffs, this was clearly the poorest-played contest by the Terps. To my eyes, Maryland is a better team than Notre Dame, an equal team with Virginia, and a team fortunate to have beaten the very gifted California Golden Bears.
It will remain to be seen if this game and result will adversely affect Patrick Mullin’s chance to retain the MAC Hermann Trophy. Harrison Shipp is also a finalist.