Two questionable decisions to not call hand balls marred what was otherwise a very entertaining College Cup Final, and Maryland was unable to break the stout Irish defense in a 2-1 defeat Sunday. It is the first national championship in Notre Dame men's soccer history.
Maryland was able to get pressure in the first five minutes with some solid opportunities, but Notre Dame responded with counter attacks and got the first good shot off about ten minutes into the match. Zack Steffen made the nice save in the corner of the net, and the Irish continued to mount on the pressure, earning the first three corner kicks of the match.
The vaunted Irish defense was game for the challenge, getting in the way of Maryland's crosses and launching counter attacks for Notre Dame's midfielders and forwards.
The Terps struck first, with ten minutes left to play. Maryland sent in the corner kick, and the first attempt deflected off a Notre Dame player (on what looked like a handball) and sat perfectly for Patrick Mullins. The Terrapin star drilled the ball into the net on the one-timer, giving Maryland the 1-0 lead near the close of the half.
Notre Dame responded just minutes later, as Nick Besler flicked a fantastic header off the throw-in to Leon Brown, who executed a diving kick past the outstretched Steffen to tie it up.
Fifteen minutes into the second half, Notre Dame struck again off a set play. The ball was sent in perfectly by Harrison Shipp to Andrew O'Malley, who headed it home to take the lead.
The Terrapins had multiple chances at the net about 20 minutes into the half, with another possible handball not called on multiple attempts at the goal.
With five minutes left, Mullins made a run down the left side and was able to force a corner kick opportunity. Maryland ended up with back-to-back corners as a result of the play, but a phenomenal tackle by Evan Panken stopped the opportunity.
The Terps controlled the ball for much of the end of the game, but were unable to capitalize with the all-important second goal. With under two minutes to play, a handball was called against the Irish (without a card), giving Maryland a free kick from right outside the box. Mullins missed far right, sealing the Terrapins' fate.