[MEN'S COLLEGE CUP: Final]Notre Dame rallied to beat Maryland, 2-1, in Sunday's Men's College Cup final for its first national title.
Notre Dame and Maryland had shared the ACC regular-season title and played to a 1-1 tie in their previous meeting this season. Sunday's final was even. While Maryland had an edge in play, Notre Dame was more effective in creating chances and in its finishing.
Five minutes after Patrick Mullins put Maryland ahead with his 19th goal of the season, the most in the country, subLeon Brownscored from a sharp angle to even the score after Luke Mishu’s throw-in was flicked on by Nick Besler.
In the 60th minute, Harrison Shipp, who shared the College Cup's Most Outstanding Player award with Mullins, perfectly deposited a free kick into the middle of the penalty area, where an open Andrew O'Malley headed it home for the winning goal.
The title was the first for Scotsman Bobby Clark in 27 years coaching at Dartmouth, Stanford and Notre Dame. Stanford was runner-up in 1998.
"We're all smiling big smiles," said the 68-year-old coach Clark.
The game was marked by controversy as twice there were Irish handballs that referee Hilario Grajeda, who had been the referee in MLS Cup 2013, failed to call.
The first one came as Alex Shinsky's shot was blocked by Patrick Hodan with his left arm. The ball rebounded to Mullins, who scored the game's opening goal -- after a handball of his own -- but Hodan could have been red carded on the play.
The second handball came nine minutes after Notre Dame went ahead when Irish defender Connor Klekota touched the ball with his right hand on a corner kick. It turned out to be a big play as Maryland had no serious scoring opportunities in the last 20 minutes.
Sasho Cirovski chose not to play up the non-calls and deflect attention from the Irish title.
“I want to congratulate Bobby Clark and Notre Dame on their first national championship," he said. "They are really winners and I’m very happy for Bobby and all he has done for college soccer and I hope he enjoys this one. At Maryland we shoot for the stars every year. We aim high. When you aim that high and you don’t reach, you still end up at the moon - which is higher than most people. To lose today to a great Notre Dame team is no disgrace and no shame."
Dec. 15 in Chester, Pa.
Notre Dame 2 Maryland 1.Goals: Brown (Besler, Mishu) 40, O'Malley (Shipp) 60; Mullins 35.
Notre Dame --Wall, Lachowecki, O'Malley, Van de Casteele, L.Mishu, Klekota, Besler, Panken, Hodan, Shipp, Cicciarelli. Sub: Brown, Aubrey.
Maryland --Steffen, Sauers, Ambrose, Dainkeh, Odoi-Atsem, Metzger, Eticha, Raley, Endoh, Tshuma, Mullins. Subs: Shinsky, Jane, Pace.