Terps reach title game, will play UNC

ncaa men's soccer maryland 1, st. john's 0, 2 ot

December 13, 2008|By Steve Hunt | Steve Hunt,Special to The Baltimore Sun

FRISCO, Texas - It took just more than 104 minutes but in the end, Maryland's Graham Zusi found the back of the net about four minutes into the second overtime as the Terrapins prevailed, 1-0, over St. John's (19-3-3) at the NCAA Men's College Cup at Pizza Hut Park.

It was the 15th straight win for Maryland (22-3-0), which will face ACC rival North Carolina (15-7-1) tomorrow to decide the national championship.

Zusi's goal came on a free kick from about 25 yards out. The Maryland striker stepped up to the spot and struck the ball perfectly, sending his shot floating into the left side of the net to give the Terps the win.

"I'm delighted with the victory," Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski said. "Appropriately, the best player on the field had the game-winner. We knew St. John's would be tough to penetrate and at times, they made it difficult. But I thought we carried the game and carried it very well. I thought Neal Kitson was outstanding in goal and made three or four incredible saves. I'm just happy we're playing on Sunday."

It was Maryland's 15th straight win and marked the fourth straight time that the Terrapins have eliminated the Red Storm from the NCAA tournament. Maryland last lost Oct. 3, a 5-3 loss at Clemson. Since then, the Terps have outscored the opposition 27-6.

After just four shots in the opening half, the Terrapins' attack came alive and outshot St. John's 12-1 in the second half, 2-1 in the first overtime and 1-0 in the second extra period.

Zusi led all players with nine shots, with five of those being on net. Jason Herrick had seven shots for the Terps. But in the end, this game was Zusi's for the taking.

"The entire game, I thought we were so unlucky to not get a goal through the flow of play," he said. "Their goalie played unbelievably and made some great saves. As far as the free kick, we have worked on those the entire season and Sasho told me I was one-for-two on free kicks this year. I just wanted to get a chance. You don't want to over hit those. I just gave it a chance and it went where I wanted it to."

Maryland is in the final of the NCAA Men's College Cup for the fifth time in school history. The last time the Terrapins were in the final was in 2005, when they won the championship with a 1-0 victory over New Mexico.

The sides have already met twice this year with Maryland winning both meetings. On Nov. 7, the Terps prevailed, 2-1, and five days later, they won over the Tar Heels, 1-0, in the ACC tournament.


Yesterday's semifinals at Frisco, Texas:

* North Carolina 1, Wake Forest 0

* Maryland 1, St. John's 0, 2 OT

Tomorrow's championship at Frisco, Texas: North Carolina (15-7-1) vs. Maryland (22-3), 1 p.m. (ESPN2)

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