Maryland men’s soccer Coach Sasho Cirovski had lobbied hard to bring the ACC men’s soccer tournament back to the Maryland SoccerPlex. In that way, the 20th-year coach had already scored a personal victory well before his team met North Carolina for the tournament final on Sunday afternoon afternoon in Germantown.
Playing before a partisan crowd of 9,341 red-clad fans, the Terrapins put an exclamation point on a special weekend for the program, beating North Carolina, 2-1, to win their third ACC tournament title in five years. Freshmen Dakota Edwards and Schillo Tshuma scored, and Cirovski’s squad held off the defending national champions for the second time this season.
“This was a better atmosphere than last year’s College Cup,” said Cirovski, who was named the conference’s coach of the year on Thursday for the third time. “This was a magical day for college soccer, and it means a lot to me.”
When the SoccerPlex last hosted the tournament in 2006, Maryland (17-1-2) lost in the semifinals to Duke, but the Terrapins made use of the home-field advantage on Sunday, taking the lead for good in the 11th minute.
Sophomore Dan Metzger slung a bouncing corner kick into the box and Edwards, a sturdy 6-foot-2 defender, managed to corral it before blasting a quick shot past North Carolina goalkeeper Scott Goodwin from close range.
A mainstay in Cirovski’s starting lineup this season, Edwards bounced back from a shaky performance in Friday’s double-overtime semifinal win over Clemson with his first career goal.
North Carolina (15-3-2) had given up just four goals this season and none in five games since losing 1-0 in double overtime in College Park last month.
“Trying to come back against Maryland on basically a home field for them was a tough hill to climb,” North Carolina Coach Carlos Somoano said. “It just felt like we were going uphill from that point on.”
Tshuma scored the lone goal in the Terrapins’ first win over the Tar Heels, and this time the Episcopal grad provided the insurance tally in the 62nd minute.
Tshuma ran onto freshman Mikey Ambrose’s throw-in and appeared to attempt a cross as he neared the end line. Instead, it became his eighth goal of the season when it tipped off a defender’s foot and beat Goodwin inside the near post.
The score proved necessary when North Carolina, which managed just two shots on goal, got one back on junior Rob Lovejoy’s goal in the 86th minute.
With the win, the Terrapins strengthened their case to earn a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament and home-field advantage through the College Cup. They will learn their postseason fate when the 48-team bracket is released on Monday evening.
“At the end of the day, [the fans] are going to follow us wherever,” said senior John Stertzer, an Oakton native. “We know that. We love them. We have the best fans in the country.”
● NOTRE DAME 3, GEORGETOWN 2: The Fighting Irish scored with 33 seconds left in the game to tie it, and then tallied the winner in the second overtime to win the Big East men’s championship at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.
The Hoyas got goals in the 39th minute from Melvin Snoh and in the 82nd minute from senior Andy Riemer, the second giving Georgetown a 2-1 lead. But Nick Besler headed in a cross from Danny O’Leary to tie the game in the waning seconds.
Georgetown (17-3-1) now awaits a potential at-large bid when the NCAA selects its 48-team playoff field on Monday.
● GEORGETOWN 3, VIRGINIA TECH 2: Jessica Clinton fed Sarah Adams for a goal in the 94th minute to propel the Hoyas women past the Hokies and into the second round of the NCAA tournament.
“Once you get into overtime, it’s gonna come down to a big play or a bad mistake,” Georgetown Coach Dave Nolan told GUHoyas.com.
Kaitlin Brenn’s header for the Hoyas (16-3-3) had tied the game in the 78th. Georgetown’s Colleen Dinn scored in the third minute, before Jazmine Reeves and Ashley Meier scored for the Hokies (13-6-1).
Georgetown’s next game is against Baylor on Friday at 4 p.m. at North Carolina.
● LAFAYETTE 2, AMERICAN 0: In the Patriot League men’s final at American’s Reeves Field, the Leopards won their first championship since 2005 by shutting out the Eagles.