CHESTER, PA — December 15, 2013 – Notre Dame won the first ever College Cup in the program’s history thanks to a 2-1 win over Maryland at PPL Park.
The Terrapins took the lead through forward Patrick Mullins, but substitute Leon Brown was on hand to equalize for Notre Dame with 10 minutes remaining in the first half.
After an hour came the decisive moment, as Andrew O’Malley headed home from a corner to give the Fighting Irish their first ever College Cup.
Both teams named their strongest possible combinations, with all eyes on the battle between forwards Patrick Mullins and Harrison Shipp and goalkeepers Patrick Wall and Zack Steffen.
Only Notre Dame made a change to their starting side from Friday’s semifinals, bringing in Max Lachowski at left-back instead of Connor Miller.
The game started cagily, but after an early injury to Vince Cicciarelli the Fighting Irish produced a good chance with 10 minutes gone as Shipp forced a diving stop from Steffen.
The Terrapins goalkeeper continued to impress despite the game not quite catching fire in the opening 20 minutes, saving well from Shipp again and also Patrick Hodan, who was looking to repeat his heroics of Friday night’s two goals against New Mexico in the semifinals.
It took Maryland until the 26th minute to register a shot, and as expected it was through Mullins, who hit a speculative effort well over the bar without troubling Patrick Wall.
Wall was looking similarly impressive in Notre Dame’s goal, taking a corner from Tsubasa Endoh with ease despite pressure from Mullins and substitute Alex Shinsky.
After a quiet period in which neither side truly dominated, the Terrapins took the lead with 10 minutes left in the half, as after Shinsky’s header was cleared off the line, Mullins was on hand in the box to turn and sweep home the rebound.
However, Maryland were not ahead for long, as after a long throw-in was flicked on by Nick Besler, Leon Brown slid the ball past Steffen to equalize for the Fighting Irish.
The Terrapins tried to push forward for a second goal at the end of the half, but despite Shinsky seeing a strong header saved well by Wall, they could not force another chance and the game was left tied 1-1 at halftime.
In the opening minutes of the second half, the Fighting Irish nearly saw themselves take the lead, as Shipp laid the ball off to Brown inside the box but the substitute could not flick his finish past Steffen.
Maryland then thought they had an opening as Schillo Tshuma powered through, but he was expertly shepherded away from danger by the impressive Grant Van De Casteele.
With an hour on the clock, Notre Dame took the lead for the first time. Shipp’s dangerous free kick was headed home brilliantly by defender Andrew O’Malley, and the Fighting Irish were ahead 2-1 in their first ever College Cup final.
The goal stung Maryland into life once again, as Mullins saw a header just about kept out by Wall and then put another header at the near post just wide and out of play.
However, despite the Terrapins’ best efforts as they continued to pour forward, the Notre Dame defense held firm as they managed to secure their first College Cup in program history, sparking joyous scenes of jubilation.
Chris Teale is a contributing writer for College Soccer News. He is reporting from the College Cup at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. He can be reached at Chris.firstname.lastname@example.org or you can follow him on Twitter @chris_teale