Maryland beats Virginia in NCAA soccer semifinals

Patrick Mullins scored his 17th and 18th goals of the season to

lead Maryland to a 2-1 victory over Virginia in the NCAA men’s

soccer semifinals Friday night at PPL Park.

The Terrapins (17-3-5) will vie for their third national

championship in the last nine years when they face Notre Dame – a

2-0 winner over New Mexico in the first semifinal – in the title

game Sunday.

Maryland goalie Zack Steffen, from the Philadelphia area,

finished with five saves, including a diving stop on Brian James

with less than three minutes remaining to preserve the win.

”Before the game started, I said it’s going to take a special

moment by a special player,” Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski said.

”And Patrick Mullins found two special passes and had two great

finishes. And Zack came up with a great save at the end that very

few `keepers can make.”

Mullins scored in the 11th and the 76th minutes, receiving

perfect lofted through balls on both goals – the first from Mikias

Eticha and the second from Tsubasa Endoh.

Mullins, a finalist to win his second straight MAC Hermann

Trophy as the nation’s best player, leads Division I in scoring

this season and is second in Maryland history with 46 goals. The

Terps have lost only once in four years when Mullins scores.

”As a forward, all you can do is make hard runs and hope the

balls get there,” Mullins said. ”When you have great players

feeding you the ball, more times than not they’re going to get

there. Tonight we got two great services and I made sure to put

them away.”

Virginia (13-6-5) got on the board after Maryland’s Dan Metzger

took down Marcus Salandy-Defour in the box and Todd Wharton scored

the ensuing penalty kick in the 77th minute.

At that point, Mullins, projected to be one of the top overall

pick in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft next month, delivered a

message to his team.

”I just looked all the guys in the eyes and I said, `Boys, we

just need to relax and remain focused on what we’re doing,”’

Mullins said. ”I thought we were a little unfortunate on the PK

but I thought the whole game defensively we were good.”

The Cavaliers, who also lost to perennial rival Maryland in the

ACC championship game last month, had other chances to score. In

the 49th minute, Philadelphia native Darius Madison blasted a shot

that Steffen saved, with the ball then careening off the post.

Steffen and Madison are both products of the Philadelphia Union

youth academy system and had many of their friends and family in

attendance at PPL Park, the Union’s home stadium.

”We actually got beat by two guys,” Virginia coach George

Gelnovatch said. ”The goalkeeper and No. 15 (Mullins). And I think

we outplayed the rest of their team.”