Terps end Virginia's 5-year ACC reign, 2-0 Soccer team gets UM's first title in men's sport in decade

November 18, 1996|By Gary Davidson | Gary Davidson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. -- After 10 years, the University of Maryland finally has a men's Atlantic Coast Conference championship.

Pierre Venditti and Shane Dougherty (Fallston) scored the goals to lead a strong team effort as the unranked Terps upset No. 1 Virginia, 2-0, in the ACC soccer tournament final yesterday before 3,430 at Virginia's Klockner Stadium.

The Terps did not live up to their preseason rating as one of the top five or six teams in the nation. Despite falling from the rankings, however, Maryland, the No. 2 seed, recovered in the postseason and earned the school's first conference soccer championship and only men's ACC crown in any sport since the basketball team won the conference in 1986.

"We were determined," said Venditti, a sophomore striker who scored the deciding goal in all three Terps tournament victories and was the tourney's MVP.

"All season long we've heard it. Coming in, early on, we were expected to do a lot. I don't think we lived up to our expectations. Coming in this weekend, a lot of guys picked it up. Great leadership, a lot of enthusiasm. Everybody was ready to go."

After a seven-year drought, Maryland (13-5-3) will make its third straight NCAA tournament appearance with the ACC's automatic bid. Virginia (16-2-3), the NCAA champion from 1991-94 and a semifinalist last year, is sure to get an at-large invitation. The NCAA tournament field will be announced live on Home Team Sports at 6 tonight.

Maryland snapped Virginia's streak of five ACC titles and handed the host team its first loss on its home field in 35 matches (32-0-2 before yesterday).

Venditti took advantage of two errors by Virginia goalkeeper Yuri Sagatov to score his goal and set up Dougherty's team-leading 14th goal. In the 57th minute, he took a pass from midfielder Judah Cooks and took off down the right flank, step-for-step with defender Matt Chulis. In full stride, Venditti launched a shot from the top right of the penalty area over Sagatov.

"Judah played a great ball in," said Venditti of his sixth goal. "I had an extra step on him [Chulis]. From about 18 yards out, I just hit it on the near post. I knew I was in good range. We'd been working on it all week. Thank God it went in.

"I've been working on my shooting for a long time now. I just had a step on him and I hit it. He [goalie Sagatov] didn't expect it. I think he thought I'd put an extra touch on it and beat Matt."

In the 85th minute, Sagatov dropped Keith Beach's high corner kick. Venditti drilled a low shot that Chulis cleared from the goal line, but the ball caromed to Dougherty, a former Baltimore Sun Metro Player of the Year, who headed the rebound into the empty net.

"Sagatov should have stopped both of them," said Virginia coach George Gelnovatch. On the first one, "Everything Matt Chulis did was right. He channeled the guy to a tough angle where it's not easy to shoot. That's a tough shot. As a goalkeeper, the first thing you do is take care of the near post."

For the second time this season, including a 1-1 tie on Sept. 15, Maryland held Virginia star midfielder Mike Fisher without a shot or an assist. The Terps were the only team to do so.

Tenacious defense, led by Leo Cullen, helped senior Russell Payne (Ellicott City) record his second shutout in the tournament.

Pub Date: 11/18/96

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