HOOVER, Ala. – Despite a valiant comeback, the No. 2 Maryland men’s soccer team fell in penalty kicks after an epic 4-4 tie against No. 3 Georgetown in the semifinals of the 2012 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship Friday.
The Terps (20-1-3) picked up goals from Schillo Tshuma (2), Patrick Mullins and Christiano Francois and managed a gritty second-half comeback with a pair of scores in the final 17 minutes of the match.
Maryland, which competed in its 12th College Cup Friday, landed on the board first with the first of two scores from Tshuma. Senior John Stertzer’s cross flicked off Mullins and Tshuma took care of the rest with a header from three yards in the 22nd minute.
Georgetown (19-3-3) answered with a staunch minute stretch in which Steve Neumann scored a goal at 32:11 and 33:40 to pick up its first lead of the match.
The Terps clearly outplayed Georgetown in the second half, outshooting the Hoyas 10-4, but the stanza started dreadfully for Maryland. An unfortunate Brandon Allen goal extended Georgetown’s lead to 3-1 after a failed clear went awry from Terrapin keeper Keith Cardona in the 48th minute.
A steadfast Maryland unit cut the lead in half in the 59th minute when Tshuma tallied his second goal of the match after Mullins crossed the ball to the freshman from the backline.
Neumann struck again at 60:11 to complete his hat trick performance with a four-yard strike for a 4-2 Hoya advantage.
Mullins showed exactly why he belongs in St. Louis in January for the MAC Hermann Trophy presentation with a header rebound goal after an absolute rocket from Mikey Ambrose ricocheted off the cross bar in the 74th minute.
Francois, who was one of six key contributors off the bench for the Terps, would take matters in his own hands in the 77th minute, shaking off a defender, possessing for 10 yards and firing a 15-yard equalizer into the lower right for a 4-4 match.
Maryland held the advantage in overtime but was unable to convert and Georgetown overcame an early deficit in penalty kicks to advance 5-4.
“It’s very difficult to cope with the reality that we are not advancing,” head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “This was in my view the greatest semifinal in the history of college soccer. I love my team. I told them that. I love them even more after this game. They made not only me and our University but all of Terrapin Nation very proud.
“That was a classic game. We’re going to get better from that game. We’ve got some great young talent. We’re going to begin the process of getting back to next year’s College Cup immediately.”
The Terps compiled their fourth 20-win season in 2012 and registered their 19th consecutive winning season. Friday night’s match was the collegiate finale for storied seniors Taylor Kemp, London Woodberry and Stertzer.