Chester, Pa. – December 13 – Prior to Friday’s College Cup semi final match against Virginia, Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski, said, “a moment of brilliance will be the difference in this match.” He was correct. In fact the Terps had two moments of brilliance as Hermann Trophy finalist Patrick Mullins notched two goals to push the Terps to their first national championship game since 2008.
Mullins put Maryland on top in the 7th minute when Mikias Eticha (1g, 3a) served a ball over the Cavalier’s back line, which Mullins ran onto and one time finished over Virginia goalkeeper Calle Brown. This goal gave Mullins his 17th of the year to give him the nation’s lead in goals scored for 2013.
In the 76th minute, the 2012 Herman Trophy winner added to the lead when Tsubasa Endoh (3g, 6a) clipped a ball to Mullins as he proceeded to calmly slot it home. This goal, Mullins 18th of the year, tied him for 2nd place in program history in goals scored with 46.
Despite giving up a late goal, the Terrapins held on for the 2-1 victory, with Mullins playing the role of hero once again. This was the third appearance against their conference rival Virginia this year and each time Mullins played an important role in his team’s success. Mullins played a part in all six goals his team scored in these games, recording four goals, an assist, and striking the ball, which led to the game winning own goal in the ACC tournament final
The senior captain has been praised over and over again all year and proves his pundits wrong every time he steps on the field. He’s gained the utmost respect throughout the college soccer landscape and specifically his opponents. Virginia midfielder Todd Wharton was complementary of Mullins postgame claiming, “He’s a total player, the best player in the country.” Cavalier head coach George Gelnovatch made it known that the game plan was to do a good job to try to shut down #15, but that task was proven too difficult. “Stopping Mullins is key” he stated, “but today we were beat by one guy.”
Many would be satisfied with a national championship appearance, but coach Cirovski, Mullins and the rest of the squad feel the responsibility to bring the trophy back to College Park. When speaking about the team’s expectations, Coach Cirovski stated, “I still remember the first time we got to the College Cup it was a massive celebration. Now everyone expects us to get to the College Cup.” The fans have a rightful expectation as they have seen their prized team make three of the last six Final Fours. For the senior, Mullins this journey is yet to be completed. He may have won college soccer’s most prestigious individual award, but he’s not concerned about that. “Team accomplishments are better” Mullins reiterated. The 1st team All American forward may have a closet full of individual collegiate awards and conference titles, but the one thing missing is the coveted national championship.
The Maryland faithful were out in full force on the frigid night in Philadelphia cheering their team on. The fans want this almost as bad as the players. In terms of Maryland soccer tradition, the fans are deprived of a national championship. They haven’t won a national championship since 2008, which seems like an eternity in Terps nation. Mullins and his teammates will look to change their recent championship fortune Sunday versus another talented conference foe, Notre Dame. The Terrapins are on the cusp of the title and they can feel it. “We’ve put our blood, sweat and tears into this.” Mullins announced convincingly, “We’ll put our best foot forward. We’re in this together. They’re my brothers.”
Head Coach Cirvoski hopes his star pupil, Mullins, who he referred to as his “assistant coach” can put in one last special performance. One more win and Mullins can cap off his career just the way he wanted. As Mullins exited the postgame press conference on Friday, Cirovski proudly stated “Good things happen to good people.” While patting his captain’s back. The Maryland fans will hope this statement holds true Sunday.
Ben Roth 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 Ben.email@example.com