Men’s college soccer: Virginia, Maryland play to thrilling 3-3 draw in last ACC meeting

October 11, 2013

The Maryland and Virginia men’s soccer teams collided Friday night for the final time in an ACC regular season match, exchanging six goals during a tumultuous first half before settling for a 3-3 draw at Klockner Stadium.

They could meet again in the conference or national tournaments next month, but with the Terrapins bolting to the Big Ten next year, a tradition running without interruption since 1954 will end.

“Hopefully we can continue to play with Virginia in the future [as nonconference foes] because, in my view, it’s the best rivalry in college soccer,” Maryland Coach Sasho Cirovski said.

The programs have combined for eight of the past 24 NCAA titles and seven of the past 11 ACC championships. They have engaged the local soccer community with entertaining and successful soccer and have prepped a wealth of players for the pro level, from MLS to the Premier League.

“We’ll definitely look at it in the future,” Cavaliers Coach George Gelnovatch said of resuming the rivalry. “We’ll miss them, no question.”

Both coaches are aiming for 2015.

If this was their last game for a while, it was a fun way to go out. The six goals were the most in the series since 1994.

The fifth-ranked Terrapins (5-2-5, 4-0-3) scored in the second minute. The No. 23 Cavaliers (6-3-3, 2-2-3) answered in the third and went ahead in the fifth. Maryland’s Patrick Mullins converted two penalty kicks in a 91-second span. Virginia countered again.

“It was chaos,” said Virginia midfielder Eric Bird, whose team had conceded one goal in the previous five matches.

“Both teams came out and attacked and made things happen,” said Cirovski, who pulled his two central defenders in the first half. “Great, entertaining first half for the fans, a little nuts for the coaches.”

Maryland went ahead after 71 seconds when Tsubasa Endoh nodded in Mullins’s end-line cross. Todd Wharton met a cleared free kick and struck from 20 yards for Virginia.

About 21 / 2 minutes later, Virginia’s Marcus Salandy-Defour (Georgetown Prep) accelerated past two defenders and finished with a rising eight-yarder to the far side.

Mullins, the 2012 Hermann Trophy winner, equalized with an 18th-minute penalty kick after Michael Sauers drew a foul surging into the box. Two minutes passed before Mullins was upended on the end line and converted another penalty for his eighth goal of the year and 25th in 31 / 2 seasons.

Virginia struck in the 27th minute. On Patrick Foss’s free kick, Maryland goalkeeper Zack Steffen anticipated a touch in the box. There was none. He remained rooted, and the ball bounded into the far corner.

The second half was tight, feisty and disciplined. The purest opportunity didn’t come until the 87th minute when Virginia’s Jeff Gal thwarted Sunny Jane’s bid deep in the box. In overtime, Steffen stuffed Nicko Corriveau’s angled effort.

“It was refreshing with two teams going after each other,” Gelnovatch said. “Not the best defensive performance, but in the second half, things settled down and we both started playing a little more soccer.”

Steven Goff is The Post’s soccer writer. His beats include D.C. United, MLS and the international game, as well as local college basketball.
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