Maryland Captures 2008 ACC Men's Soccer Championship
Nov. 16, 2008
CARY, N.C. - Second-seeded Maryland got on the scoreboard less than three minutes into Sunday's Atlantic Coast Conference Men's Soccer Championship title match against fourth-seeded Virginia.
It was only one goal, but that proved to be enough. The Terrapins protected their lead for the remainder of the afternoon to post a 1-0 win before 1,513 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C. The ACC championship is Maryland's third overall and first since 2002.
"I'm extremely happy and proud of my team," Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski said. "Winning this tournament is a primary goal for us - we have a lot of guys who haven't won an ACC Championship before. I have won a couple, and I wanted them to experience it. Now they have."
The Terps' Graham Zusi nearly stunned both teams by launching a long drive from just beyond midfield in the opening seconds of Sunday's match. Only an alert save by Virginia goalkeeper Michael Giallombardo prevented the attempt from finding its mark.
But Maryland (18-3), which opened in attack mode, found the net at the 2:38 mark. Casey Townsend took a feed from Doug Rodkey and crossed to junior midfielder and Tournament MVP Jeremy Hall, who drove home his 13th goal of the season from close range.
Fueled by the aggressive Townsend, who attempted seven of his eight shots in the opening half, the Terps continued to pound away. But Giallombardo, who finished with five saves, thwarted several chances, and a kick by Townsend that found its mark was waved off due to an offsides penalty.
Virginia (11-8-1) also had its chances, but Maryland goalkeeper Zac MacMath recorded five saves. The Cavaliers threatened several times in the final 45 minutes, but Maryland defenders Omar Gonzalez, Rich Costanzo, A.J. Delagarza and Rodney Wallace helped preserve the shutout.
"Our back line has played together for two years, and you're starting to see a real unit back there," Cirovski said.
Maryland, which posted its 11th straight win, now looks to sustain the momentum in the NCAA Tournament.
"This is the second-most important championship, and now we have one more to go," Cirovski said. "This team takes challenges very seriously. I challenged them before this game, and I'm going to give them one more in the locker room. A national championship is a reality. When you get to the finals of this tournament, you're good enough to win a national championship. We know it's not going to be easy, but we've got a real shot at it."
Virginia will also turn its attention to the NCAA Tournament, where it expects to receive an at-large bid. Coach George Gelnovatch, whose team upset top-ranked Wake Forest in double-overtime in the ACC Championship semifinals, welcomes the rest period before the Cavaliers begin the next phase of postseason play.
"Congratulations to Maryland," Gelvonatch said. "They played hard and are a good team. We looked like a team that had played three games, including two overtimes against the best team in the country. We looked tired tonight and our legs were heavy. Maryland seemed more experienced and their legs seemed fresh."
Joining Hall on the All-Tournament team was Maryland teammates Gonzalez, MacMath and Townsend; Virginia's Brian Ownby, Jonathan Villanueva and Matt Poole; Wake Forest's Corben Bone, Boston College's Chris Brown, Duke's Mike Grella and NC State's Ronnie Bouemboue.