Irish, Terps reach College Cup final

Posted: December 15, 2013

THERE WERE times when Allen Iverson was in one of his scoring zones that he talked about the basket seeming to be the size of an ocean.

A soccer goal is considerable larger than a basketball rim, but the nature of the sport makes scoring considerably more difficult.

So when a player gets on a run like the one Notre Dame sophomore midfielder Patrick Hodan is on, it's to be savored.

And the timing could not be better.

Last night at PPL Park, Hodan notched two goals, scoring in his sixth consecutive twice as Notre Dame beat New Mexico, 2-0, to advance to the championship game of the 2013 NCAA Men's College Cup.

"It's been nice," Hodan said of Notre Dame outscoring opponents by 12-3 in the NCAA Tournament. "We've been doing well on the offensive end in these NCAA games. We've moved the ball well, and everyone's fine being the open guy."

The Irish (16-1-6) will play fellow Atlantic Coast Conference member Maryland (17-3-5) for the title at 3 p.m. Sunday.

The Terps won an ACC showdown against Virginia, 2-1, in the other semifinal.

Maryland played to a 1-1 draw at Notre Dame in October.

It took Notre Dame four matches to reach the College Cup final and Hodan has had a foot in each victory.

After scoring five times in the Irish's 19 regular-season matches, Hodan has hit the back of the net six times in the NCAA Tournament.

"I remember I was with our athletic director [Jack Swarbrick] and Patrick was coming onto the field as a recruit at the end of the game," Irish coach Bobby Clark said, "and I said to Jack, 'This is one of our top recruits.' Jack kind of eyed him and said, 'He doesn't look like much of a top recruit to me.' I said, 'Mark my words, this kid can play.'

"He doesn't look [it], he's a little guy, he's a thin guy, and I can see [doubting him] if you haven't seen him. But he's like Superman when he puts that uniform on and starts playing."

There couldn't be a bigger difference in NCAA history than Notre Dame and Maryland.

The Irish are in the championship game after reaching the College Cup for the first time.

Maryland is a three-time NCAA champion and is in the College Cup for the eighth time in 16 years - the most appearances in the country.

Maryland beat Virginia, 2-1, in the 79th meeting between the programs.

The teams played for the third time this season.

They tied 3-3 in the regular season, and then Maryland, which joins the Big Ten next year, bid the ACC goodbye by defeating Virginia, 1-0, in the conference championship game.

The victory was almost assured for the Terrapins (16-3-5) when reigning NCAA Player of the Year Patrick Mullins scored in the 11th minute.

In his four seasons in College Park, Maryland is now 32-1-5 when Mullins finds the back of the net.

Mullins moved in second place all time at Maryland with 46 career goals when he scored in the 76th minute.

That goal would prove to be the difference when Virginia (13-6-5) scored on a penalty kick from Todd Wharton in the 77th minute.

A spectacular save by freshman goalie Zack Steffen in the 88th minute put the Terps in the College Cup for the third time since 2005.

If Maryland beats Notre Dame it will be the third time a freshman goalie has led coach Sasha Cirovski to a title.

Former Philadelphia Union goalie Chris Seitz was defending the net in 2005 and current Union goalie Zac MacMath had 1-0 shutout for the 2008 title.

"We talked coming into the year, we had a great regular season last year," Notre Dame senior defender Harrison Shipp said. "We were the No. 1 seed overall coming into the tournament, so we checked that off our list of accomplishments and brought the program to that next level.

"I think this year we kind of had the goal of getting the program to a Final Four and winning the national championship. I think we've assembled the right group of guys. I don't think we have any weaknesses on the field. I have complete trust in the guys that they're going to make the plays that need to be made."


Email: smallwj@phillynews.com

Columns: ph.ly/Smallwood

Blog: ph.ly/DNL

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