Freshman midfielder Michael Sauers scored from beyond the penalty area in the 86th minute Saturday, lifting Maryland to a 2-1 victory at California and a berth in next weekend’s College Cup.
In winning their 10th straight match, the fifth-seeded Terrapins (16-3-5) avenged their only away loss of the year and advanced to the semifinals for the eighth time in 16 seasons. They will face Virginia, the No. 8 seed, next Friday evening at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. The longtime ACC rivals played to a 3-3 draw in the regular season and met in the conference final, won by Maryland, 1-0, on a late own goal.
The other semifinal will pit third-seeded Notre Dame — which defeated No. 11 Michigan State, 2-1 — against seventh-seeded New Mexico, a 1-0 upset winner over No. 2 Washington.
Virginia (13-5-5) advanced Friday with a 2-1 victory over visiting Connecticut.
Sauers, a D.C. United youth academy player from Baltimore County, scored on a booming shot against the fourth-seeded Bears (14-5-2), who were seeking their first College Cup appearance. He beat goalkeeper Alex Mangels to the left side of the net for his fifth goal of the season.
The Terrapins had taken a 1-0 lead in the 33rd minute on junior forward Alex Shinsky‘s first career goal, a downward header inside the six-yard box off Mike Ambrose‘s free kick from the edge of the penalty area. Earlier in the half, Cal’s Luis Fuentes drove a low shot that caromed off the right post, spun along the goal line and hit the left post.
The Bears drew even five minutes into the second half when Stefano Bonomo converted a rebound after Zack Steffen made a sensational reflex save from point-blank range. Ten minutes later, Bonomo touched the ball around Steffen but had his effort cleared by a Maryland defender in the six-yard box. Mangels made a fine save on Patrick Mullins‘s bid two minutes before Sauers’s go-ahead strike.