COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Patrick Mullins capped off his Ludwig Field career in style Sunday with a first half goal that sent No. 5 Maryland past No. 12 UC Irvine 1-0 and into the quarterfinals of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Soccer Championship.
The Terrapins (15-3-5) controlled much of what became a very physical match with the Anteaters (15-5-3). Freshman keeper Zack Steffen came up big time and time again for the Terps over the course of the 90 minutes, including a couple of huge saves in the second half.
Mullins had the best opportunity of the opening 25 minutes when his header flashed wide off a Mikey Ambrosecross. The senior was constant a threat to the Irvine backline.
That threat turned into a tally in the 33rd minute. Tsubasa Endoh was able to brilliantly dribble past two Anteater defenders on the right wing before sending in a cross that Mullins poked past Irvine keeper Michael Breslin.
The goal was Mullins’ 16th of the season and put him into a tie with Abe Thompson and Casey Townsend for third on Maryland’s all-time scoring list with 43.
Steffen made his presence felt late in the first half, palming a Cameron Iwasa strike over the bar.
The Terp attack stayed dangerous in the second half, putting together a number of solid attacking sequences, but was unable to find an insurance goal.
With the offense unable to seal the match, Steffen put together one of his best halves of the season to keep the Terps in front. The freshman sprawled to his right to stop an Enrique Cardenas shot that was headed to the top corner.
The Downingtown, Pa., native saved the Terps again in the 88th minute, getting in front of a point blank Irvine shot to hold the Maryland lead.
The Terrapin midfield was outstanding the entire night. Mikias Eticha, Dan Metzger and Endoh relentlessly pressured the Anteaters and linked up the Terp backline and forwards on numerous occasions.
“I thought we put out a great performance against an excellent Irvine team, especially in the first half,” head coachSasho Cirovski said. “I give Irvine a lot of credit for throwing some numbers forward and challenging us in the second half. I thought we stood strong. I think you’ve seen the resiliency of this team and the growth of it. I thought we were quite composed.”
Maryland will travel to No. 4 California for a rematch of an early-season meeting in which the Bears upended the Terps in overtime. Maryland will battle Cal for a shot at the College Cup next Saturday at 4:30 p.m. It is Maryland’s ninth quarterfinal appearance since 2002.