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Friday, December 12, 2008

MARYLAND VS. ST. JOHN'S

Where: At Pizza Hut Park, Frisco, Tex.

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TV: ESPNU, 8 p.m. (tape, ESPN2, 11 a.m., tomorrow).

Records: No. 2 seed Terrapins 21-3, No. 3 seed Red Storm 19-2-3.

NCAA Titles: Maryland in 1968 and 2005; St. John's in 1996.

Leading Scorers: Maryland junior MF Jeremy Hall (14 goals, 6 assists), St. John's junior MF Nelson Becerra (8, 7).

Goalkeepers: Maryland freshman Zac MacMath (0.49 goals against average, 10 shutouts), St. John's senior Neal Kitson (0.47, 15).

How They Got Here: Maryland defeated George Mason (2-0), California (2-1) and Creighton (1-0). St. John's defeated Boston University (1-0), UC Irvine (3-2) and Indiana (3-2, OT).

Outlook: Maryland's 14-game winning streak has tied a 40-year-old program record. Since a 5-3 loss at Clemson on Oct. 3, the Terrapins have conceded just six goals. MacMath is fifth in the nation in goals against average and has allowed one goal in the past 600-plus minutes. The Red Storm is making its first semifinal appearance since 2003, when it ousted Maryland in the semifinals before losing to Indiana. A year later, the Terrapins beat St. John's in the quarterfinals. The Red Storm is currently on an 11-1-1 run, the lone loss coming to South Florida in the Big East final. Last weekend, trailing Indiana by two goals with less than nine minutes left, the Red Storm forced overtime and then won on Becerra's goal.

Prediction: Maryland, 2-1.

WAKE FOREST VS. NORTH CAROLINA

TV: ESPN2, 5:30 p.m.

Records: No. 1 seed Demon Deacons 21-1-1, No. 13 seed Tar Heels 14-7-1.

NCAA Titles: Wake Forest in 2007; North Carolina in 2001.

Leading Scorers: Wake Forest junior F Cody Arnoux (17 goals, 8 assists), UNC senior F Brian Shriver (13, 5).

Goalkeepers: Demon Deacons junior Akira Fitzgerald (0.61 GAA, 13 shutouts), Tar Heels senior Jacob Wescoe (1.27, three).

How They Got Here: Wake defeated William & Mary (1-0, OT), Dartmouth (7-0) and South Florida (5-0). UNC defeated Jacksonville (1-0), Illinois-Chicago (3-2, OT) and Northwestern (1-0).

Outlook: The Demon Deacons' 81 goals are the most in the nation since UNC Greensboro's 91 in 1998. The only time the reigning champions were shut out this year was in a scoreless tie with Duke. This is their third consecutive College Cup appearance: They lost to UC Santa Barbara on penalty kicks in the 2006 semifinals and defeated Virginia Tech and Ohio State last year. Ranked No. 1 in the coaches' poll every week this year, Wake defeated the Tar Heels in a regular season meeting, 4-2. North Carolina went 3-5 in conference play and entered the NCAA tournament with a five-game losing streak, but edged three unseeded opponents at home to reach the semifinals for the first time in seven years.

Prediction: Wake Forest, 3-1.

-- Steven Goff


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