Virginia tops Maryland to advance to College Cup
Saturday, December 5, 2009
CHARLOTTESVILLE -- The outcome was no longer in doubt, what with Virginia leading Maryland by three goals Friday night and no one having scored against goalkeeper Diego Restrepo and the Cavaliers since mid-October.
In the final seconds, a Terrapins corner kick sailed dangerously into the penalty area -- one last threat to Virginia's astonishing autumn of soccer. Consistent with the Cavaliers' perfection and defending champion Maryland's failure to finish opportunities in the NCAA tournament quarterfinal, Jason Herrick's stab floated over the crossbar.
It was a fitting end in front of 4,900 spectators at Klockner Stadium, a 3-0 result that propelled the second-seeded Cavaliers (17-3-3) into the College Cup for the second time in four seasons, extended their shutout streak to 11 and increased their unbeaten run to 14. "It's an outstanding goalkeeper, it's a great back four, but it's also a team mentality," Virginia Coach George Gelnovatch said. "Guys are blocking shots, guys are throwing their bodies in front of plays, guys are heading balls out, guys are getting behind the ball."
The Cavaliers, seeking their first national title since 1994, will face the winner of Saturday's match between third-seeded Wake Forest and No. 6 UCLA next Friday in Cary, N.C.
Senior midfielder Neil Barlow created the first goal in the sixth minute with a cross that deflected off a Maryland defender and set up Will Bates's header early in the second half before reserve Jordan Evans struck in the 78th.
Virginia was unquestionably the superior side, but the Terrapins (15-6-2) had themselves to blame as well. After allowing the early goal, they squandered repeated chances. The second goal also came off a deflection and Herrick's penalty kick in the 66th minute was poorly struck, allowing Restrepo to smother it -- and all but smother Maryland's comeback hopes.
"We lacked some quality in the final third" of the field, Terrapins Coach Sasho Cirovski said. "You have to deny the penetration, and on two occasions, we stumbled. These things happen, but you have to credit Virginia for making them happen."
Virginia was vibrant and dangerous from the outset as Tony Tchani drilled a 14-yarder that was cleared by defender Kwame Darko stationed near the left post. Two minutes later, Barlow drove a left-side cross toward teammate Ari Dimas making a run into the six-yard box.
Dimas's presence might have distracted Maryland freshman Taylor Kemp, who redirected the bouncing ball past goalkeeper Zac MacMath -- an own goal under most circumstances but credited to Barlow (Langley High).
Maryland answered with ferocious pressure. After Restrepo held his ground to make consecutive saves, Terrapins forward Casey Townsend failed to make solid contact on an off-balanced shot from close range and watched the golden opportunity bound wide.
Given a reprieve, the Cavaliers pressed for a second goal that, given their shutout pace, would, in essence, end Maryland's hopes. Barlow redirected right back Shawn Barry's cross wide and Tchani nicked the outside of the right post from 25 yards.
Virginia needed 13-plus minutes after halftime to increase the lead. Barlow's cross near the left sideline glanced off the head of a Maryland player and allowed Bates to nod into the right corner for his team-high 12th goal. Said Barlow: "I knew Bates was in there, and Bates is great in the air -- you put the ball near him, he will go up and get it and finish it."
Restrepo was in jeopardy of conceding his first goal since a 3-1 victory at Virginia Tech on Oct. 17, but Herrick's penalty kick lacked imagination and pace, allowing Restrepo to smother it.
"He gives the team a tremendous amount of confidence," Cirovski said of Restrepo, whose shutout streak has reached 1,107 minutes 34 seconds.
"I think they feel like he is going to stop whatever gets behind them. It's been a remarkable feat."