Maryland came roaring off the kickoff like they wanted to put a first round knockout on the visiting Louisville Cardinals and show John Swofford and company that Louisville is certainly not an improvement where soccer is concerned. Schillo Tshuma had a shot on goal and the Terps had two corner kicks all in the first minute and a half. It wasn’t until Maryland’s fourth corner coming in the ninth minute that the hosts were able to manufacture a good scoring opportunity but the Louisville goalie was up to the task and stopped John Stertzer’s header. Coming up short didn’t deter the Terps as they continued pressing forward in full attack mode earning back to back corners in the 11th and 12th minutes. The game then shifted more toward the midfield where the visitors had a very solid game. The Cardinals finally scraped together a bit of a counter attack managing their first shot in the 24th minute but it was well wide right. The Terrapins were able to charge back but Patrick Mullins shot was also wide. In the 32nd minute, Maryland goal keeper Keith Cardona faced his first challenge of the match on a low drive that he saved easily. The Terps broke the ice in the 34th minute after a Cardinals foul. Defender Taylor Kemp played a beautiful ball into the box from about 35 yards out. As Mullins streaked across the box drawing the attention of the Louisville defense, they lost track of London Woodberry who took Kemp’s pass and headed it in to push the Terps to a 1-0 lead. The visitors would even the score about five minutes later when the Terps put together back to back mistakes first leaving the far defensive side unguarded after a failed corner followed by Cardona’s hesitation in coming off his line leaving a relatively easy one on one situation for the Louisville attacker. Maryland regained the lead with just under a minute remaining in the half again scoring following a Louisville foul. The Cardinals’ defense was solid on the play into the box but the Terrapins quickly regained control and a cross to the far side got the defense flowing in that direction. Dakota Edwards quickly reversed the ball back to the near side where Jake Pace – who had entered the game just a few minutes earlier replacing last week’s hero Sunny Jane- knocked in the header.
Although Maryland had two early shots in the second half – the first from Sunny Jane stopped on a smart save by Louisville’s keeper and the second – a failed attempt on the rebound by Tshuma- the Cardinals’ approach to the second half was somewhat different from the first. They were bringing more players forward on offense while showing more patience in their passing trying to develop opportunities. This opened some holes in the Louisville defense and midfield and the Terps were able to exploit hose for some excellent scoring chances including a shot by Mullins off a defensive block of Jane’s shot on which the Cardinals’ goalie made a wonderful save. In the 68th minute, the Terrapins would get the insurance goal they’d sought from the opening of the half when Mullins was able to kick in his own rebound when the Louisville goalie failed to secure the ball after the initial shot. Maryland’s defense, which with the exception of the one lapse had been solid throughout killed off the remaining twenty-two minutes to secure the Terrapins first trip back to the College Cup since winning the national championship in 2008. As noted elsewhere on this site, the Terps will face off against Georgetown in one of two semi final matches (unless Dr. Loh makes good on his promise not to play Georgetown in which case the Terps will forfeit the chance to win their third national championship /s)