First, my apologies to the soccer crew and Crew for everything I didn't see and cover this weekend. I had to cover the women's basketball game Friday night. Games against number one teams just don't come along that often. And, because I am still FHFAN I chose field hockey today. I did watch the second half of Friday night's game and a replay of the ACC Championship game today on ESPN3. Second, for those of you who don't know it, when they beat the University of Virginia 1-0 today, the Terps left the ACC on top adding a second straight tournament crown to their regular season title.
Briefly, here's what I saw on Friday night when Maryland beat Clemson 1-0 in overtime. The game was very rough and didn't look like quality soccer at all. The officials let Clemson played a very physical game in which they were whistled for fifteen fouls and likely could have had several more called against them. The Tigers' game plan seemed to be to try to frustrate the Terps, perhaps score off a set piece in regulation or get the game to overtime and take their chances. They succeeded in that last goal but failed in the others. Though Clemson forced Maryland to play an ugly game in a style that is the antithesis of Terrapin soccer, the Terps remained poised. With under a minute to play, Jereme Raley played a cross from deep on the right side that Clemson's defense blocked over the end line leading to a Maryland corner kick. Tsubasa Endoh played the corner into the box where Jake Pace and Patrick Mullins attempted but failed to get off a header on goal. However, Clemson only managed to clear it out to about twenty-five yards where Mikey Ambrose picked it up and lobbed a pass back into the box toward the right post. Dan Metzger picked it up and played it toward the center where Mullins tapped it back to Michael Sauers who calmly controlled the ball, turned and drove home the golden goal with thirteen seconds to play.
Now, on to Sunday's game: Whether it was due to fatigue or nerves, both Maryland and Virginia opened the game with some sloppy play. The Terps had the first chance in the eleventh minute. A nice build up down the left side started with a pass from Mikey Ambrose to Patrick Mullins along the back line. Mullins served a beautiful curving ball toward the far post and teammate Tsubasa Endoh. However, the taller Cavalier defender headed the ball over the back line leading to the first of three Terrapin corner kicks in the half. A long throw-in from the left side led to the first shot of the game. Mullins outfought two UVA defenders to control the ball and got it to the upper corner of the eighteen where he sent a pass to Mikias Eticha. Etichi played a quick one touch pass to Sunny Jane at the top of the box but Jane's attempt at a curling shot soared high.
Just about a minute later, the Terps had another nice buildup when David Kabelik, starting in place of an injured Schillo Tshuma, played a ball down the right side for Jane. Jane took it deep along the back line and attempted to cross to Mullins who had made a nice run to the post but Cavalier goalkeeper Calle Brown intercepted and killed the threat.
Virginia had its first real opportunity in the twenty-second minute on a centering pass from the right into space in the box. However, the Terrapin defense came up with the big block. The Cavs has another chance in the thirty-first minute but again the Terp defense was solid getting a touch off a Virginia pass back to keeper Zack Steffen who cleared the ball quickly.
A UVA foul of Endoh with just under fourteen minutes to play in the half from 24 yards on the right side of the box. Ambrose served a dangerous ball into box but the ball was well cleared. The Terps maintained pressure, though, and Ambrose took a pass from Dan Metzger. The sophomore midfielder made a long run from the left side into the center where he played a ball to the wide right for Jereme Raley. Raley played the ball toward the far post for Mullins who headed the ball back toward Pace but his header didn't remain in play and hit the top of the net.
As had been the case for most of the half, the Cavaliers countered and the Terps might have been saved by a poor decision by Virginia attacker Darius Madison who had outraced Chris Odoi-Atsem to a long pass and attacked along the right baseline. Rather than passing back to an open teammate just outside the six, Madison took a shot from a difficult angle that Odoi-Atsem deflected into Steffen's waiting arms. The half ended with no score.
The second half was more of the same. Maryland attacked. Virginia countered. The Terps stated early with a ball from Mullins to Sauers down the left side in the first minute but the freshman, perhaps a bit tired from Friday's late game failed to handle the cross well and the threat fizzled. Virginia came back on the counter. A long throw in and a header flicked into the box lead to a dangerous scissor kick that went wide in the in the forty-ninth minute.
A long Terrapin possession beginning in the fiftieth minute led to Maryland's only corner kick of the half. Endoh hit a good ball but Brown picked it off averting any real danger. Three minutes or so later some strong work by Mullins who brought down a pass in the right of the eighteen and worked his way clear of three Cavalier defenders and laid off a pass to Kabelik deep in the box. Kabelik played the ball back toward Sauers and Eticha neither of whom could control it in a crowd of Cavalier defenders but the ball came back to Mullins at the top of the box. The senior's shot also failed to penetrate the Virginia defense.
The Terps had another chance in the fifty-sixth minute. After a long throw-in from the right, Endoh centered the ball and played a pass to Ambrose on the left. Ambrose served a nice ball into the box for Eticha who made a good turn but the junior from Falls Church just whiffed on the shot attempt.
Three minutes later, Maryland developed another good chance when Ambrose controlled the ball down the left side and played a bit of a two man game with Michael Sauers. Sauers drove the ball deep into the box between two UVA defenders and cut it back to Eticha but Brown made the save.
Beginning about the seventy-eighth minute, the Terps had long possessions in the Cavalier third that led to several strong Maryland chances including a chance for Mullins on a cross from Jane where he just didn't make solid contact and one from Eticha that was well defended by Virginia.
The breakthrough finally came with two and a half minutes to play and it was again Patrick Mullins in the middle of it all. The senior forward from New Orleans took a pass at about twenty-five yards from Ambrose and drive down the left side showing his strength and speed. Beating his defender down the back line, he launched a rocket toward the center of the box, possibly looking for a cutting Endoh, that caromed off Virginia defender' Kevin McBride's leg for an own goal that proved to be the only score of the day. Like the field hockey team, the Terps will leave the ACC as regular season and conference tournament champions.