Notre Dame wins NCAA men’s soccer title

Confetti rained down, the Notre Dame fight song ”Victory

March” blasted over the loudspeakers and everyone on the Fighting

Irish’s soccer team ran to one side of the field to celebrate.

For the first time in the school’s proud athletic history, Notre

Dame was on top of the men’s college soccer world.

Led by goals from Andrew O’Malley and Leon Brown, and another

big game from College Cup co-Most Outstanding Player Harrison

Shipp, Notre Dame won its first men’s soccer title with a 2-1

victory over Maryland on Sunday at PPL Park. The Fighting Irish

finished the season 17-1-6.

”We’re all smiling big smiles,” said 68-year-old coach Bobby

Clark, who won his first title in 27 years coaching at Dartmouth,

Stanford and Notre Dame.

Patrick Mullins, the nation’s leading scorer, scored for

Maryland (17-4-5). The Terrapins were trying to win their fourth

national championship and third under coach Sasho Cirovski.

”They are worthy winners and I’m genuinely happy for Bobby for

all he’s done for college soccer,” Cirovski said. ”I hope he

enjoys this one. At Maryland, we shoot for the stars every year. We

aim high. And when you aim that high and when you don’t reach it,

you still end up at the moon, which is higher than most

people.”

Shipp, a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy as the nation’s

best player, set up O’Malley’s winning goal with a perfectly placed

free kick in the 60th minute. O’Malley leaped for Shipp’s kick and

directed a header past goalkeeper Zack Steffen’s outstretched

arms.

Coming into Sunday’s title game, O’Malley, a senior defender,

had scored just twice in his collegiate career – and, according to

Clark, he missed a couple of chances throughout the season.

But he didn’t miss when it counted.

”The goal itself was really put on a silver platter for me,”

O’Malley said. ”It would have been tough for me to screw it up, I

suppose. Harry just played a beautiful ball and all I needed to do

was redirect it to the back post.”

O’Malley, from nearby West Chester, said it was extra special to

score the championship-deciding goal in front of many of his family

and friends, who made the short commute to watch him play at PPL

Park.

”I kind of jokingly said after the game – but I’m a little bit

serious -that people think I’m good now,” O’Malley said. ”So,

hopefully, I’ll just ride that.”

Brown tied it at 1 in the 40th minute with a tough-angle shot.

He entered the game as a reserve when Vince Cicciarelli was forced

to leave when he broke his collarbone in the 10th minute.

Luke Mishu and Nick Besler were both credited with assists after

Besler flicked on a long Mishu throw-in right to the foot of Brown,

who slid a tough-angle shot past Steffen.

Mullins, Maryland’s own Hermann Trophy finalist, opened the

scoring for the Terrapins in the 35th minute.

Moments earlier, Mullins thought a penalty kick was warranted

when a volley from Alex Shinksy from cleared off the goal line by

what looked to be the arm of Notre Dame’s Patrick Hodan. But Hodan

was not called for the hand ball and then Mullins used his own hand

to bring the ball down and deposit a shot past goalkeeper Patrick

Wall.

”In the heat of the moment, I hit it down with my hand and,

like any good forward, I hit it in the net,” Mullins said.

”That’s not who I am and I’m very disappointed in how that play

resulted. … I will regret that one for the rest of my life.”

Mullins, who shared College Cup Most Outstanding Player honors

with Shipp, had 19 goals this season and finished his college

career with 47, second in program history.

But for Cirovski, it was the character Mullins displayed in

admitting to an intentional hand ball that shows what MLS teams

will be getting when the Maryland senior is likely selected as one

of the top picks in next month’s draft.

”When I build my stadium, I’m going to bronze a statue with him

out front,” Cirovski said. ”He’s made from the best stuff on

earth. It affected him. It affected him a lot. … His conscience

was hurting.”

For Shipp – who finished his senior season with 12 goals and 11

assists, including three in the College Cup – it was not only

gratifying to win a national title but to do so for Clark.

”I think this program has known for the last few years that

we’re headed in the right direction,” Shipp said. ”We had a great

regular season (last year) but I think we kind of realized that it

was time for this program to take the next step. And we thought the

only logical place to do that was to reach the final four and win a

national championship.

”And to do it for this guy – our coach – is amazing. He’s

probably the most underappreciated college soccer coach in the

country.”

NOTES: The Besler family has won two major soccer titles in the

past week. Besler’s brother, Matt, a U.S. national team defender,

won the MLS Cup with Sporting Kansas City last Saturday. … In

Mullins’ four years at Maryland, the Terrapins have lost only two

games in which he scored. … In the semifinals Friday, Notre Dame

beat New Mexico 2-0, and Maryland topped Virginia 2-1. … In

addition to Shipp and Mullins, Patrick Hodan (Notre Dame), Besler,

O’Malley, Grant Van De Casteele (Notre Dame), Tsubasa Endoh

(Maryland), Steffen, Jordan Allen (Virginia), Darius Madison

(Virginia) and Michael Calderon (New Mexico) were selected to the

College Cup All-Tournament Team.