One way or another, the Terps were going to face a somewhat familiar foe in the NCAA Championship game. And it's somehow fitting that to win a national championship in their last season in the ACC Maryland will have to win a third ACC championship and defeat one of the newest members of the league the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. The Irish defeated the New Mexico Lobos by a score of 2-0 in the first semi-final at PPL Park Friday night. The game will be the fifth meeting all-time between the schools and Maryland holds a 2-1-1 advantage.
The Irish, who entered championship weekend as the highest remaining seed, tied the Terps for the regular season ACC crown but avoided a rematch when they failed to reach the final of their first ACC Tournament. Maryland traveled to South Bend in early October for the teams' only matchup of the year and fittingly came away with a 1-1 tie. Patrick Mullins scored in the seventy-second minute to pull the Terps even in a game that was statistically dominated by the Irish who outshot Maryland 23-6 and had a 6-3 edge in corner kicks.
Notre Dame's lone conference loss and, in fact, their only loss of the season came at the hands of Virginia 2-0 in Charlottesville. The Cavaliers also eliminated the Irish from the ACC Tournament in a game decided on penalty kicks so that officially goes in the books as a tie. Maryland's only ACC loss came in College Park where the Terrapins dropped a 4-3 decision to Wake Forest. Notre Dame's other ties in the ACC came when they hosted North Carolina (1-1) and when they traveled to Boston College (1-1). Maryland's other ACC tie games came on the road at North Carolina (2-2) and at Virginia (3-3).
The offensive leader for Notre Dame is senior forward Harrison Shipp (#10) who has 12 goals and 10 assists on the season. Sophomore Patrick Hodan (#27) has been dangerous as an attacking midfielder standing second on the team in goals and assists with 11 and 5 respectively and junior forward Vince Cicciarelli (#21) has found the back of the net six times including scoring the only Irish goal in the game against Maryland. As a team, Notre Dame averages just under two goals per game.
On the defensive end of the field, Notre Dame is among the best in the country giving up just 0.73 goals per game. Their defense is anchored by senior goalkeeper Patrick Wall who has a .800 save percentage. Like Zack Steffen for Maryland, Wall has played every minute in goal this season for Notre Dame.