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Maryland defeats UVa. men’s soccer 2-1 in College Cup semis

The Virginia men’s soccer team saw its 2013 season come to an end Friday evening with a 2-1 loss to Maryland in an NCAA College Cup semifinal match at a chilly PPL Park in Chester, Pa.

uva-logo-new2Seeded eighth in the tournament, Virginia had its season conclude with a 13-6-5 record. Maryland (17-3-5), the No. 5 seed, advances to play third-seeded Notre Dame in the championship match at 3 p.m. Sunday.

Reigning MAC Hermann Trophy honoree Patrick Mullins scored both goals for the Terrapins, while Todd Wharton (So., Glen Allen, Va.) scored for Virginia on a penalty kick. Mullins recorded four goals in three matches against UVa this season.

“I thought it was, for us – other than a couple of moments, I’ll call them – a pretty good performance. In fact, very good,” Virginia head coach George Gelnovatch said. “In particular, at this level, when you’re in a College Cup with four teams left – and we’ve played that team three times – it’s probably the best we’ve played against them, in terms of having the ball, feeling good about ourselves, getting possession. In particular, in the second half, getting at them a little bit more. We just had a couple of moments, and that was the difference in the game.”

Virginia maintained the possession edge and outshot Maryland 10-8 while holding a 4-2 corner kick advantage. Calle Brown (R-Jr., Leesburg, Va.) made two saves in goal for the Cavaliers, while Zack Steffan had five saves at the other end for the Terps.

While the Cavaliers had more scoring opportunities in the contest, Maryland made theirs count. The Terrapins scored first in the 11th minute when Mikias Eticha sent a long ball through the Virginia center backs and downfield to Mullins, who one-timed the ball with his left foot from 20 yards for the goal.

The Cavaliers nearly netted the equalizer in the 49th minute. After a great flick forward from Riggs Lennon (Fr., Paradise Valley, Ariz.), Darius Madison (So., Philadelphia, Pa.) briefly came free in the box and ripped a shot which deflected off Steffan and then clanged off the inside of the post and away.

Maryland doubled the lead in the 76th minute when Tsubasa Endoh sent in a beautiful cross over the Cavalier defenders and found Mullins, who buried the chance from 12 yards out for his second goal of the evening and nation-leading 18th of the season.

Virginia quickly answered just over a minute later when Brian James (So., Sunrise, Fla.) sent a great ball down downfield to Marcus Salandy-Defour (So., Kensington, Md.), who drove deep into the box and was tripped down by Dan Metzger to get UVa a penalty kick. Wharton stepped to the spot and converted on the PK to shave the lead in half. It was Wharton’s sixth goal of the season.

The Cavaliers sent everyone forward in the waning minutes, but could not find the equalizer. Steffan came up huge for the Terps in the 88th minute when James ripped a low, well-placed shot from just inside the top of the box. Steffan made a sprawling, one-handed save to deflect the ball away.

In making Virginia’s 11th NCAA College Cup appearance, the young Cavalier squad set the table for a big 2014 season. Ten of the Cavaliers’ 11 starters Friday are eligible to return next season; senior Kevin McBride (Fairfax, Va.) is the lone starter who has exhausted his eligibility.

“It’s hard to even think about next year right now, but I will say this – and I’ve said this to a couple guys in this room and not too many other people – if you would have asked me before the season if we would have been a College Cup team, I would have said, ‘I think in 2014 we can be a College Cup team,”’ Gelnovatch said. “So I think this team was a little bit ahead of schedule. Getting to this point, getting to the College Cup – and in my opinion, playing as well as we did tonight – with so many guys returning, we should be back here.”

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