Notre Dame Crowned Champions
Notre Dame Crowned Champions avatar

Chester, Pa. – Cheer, Cheer for Old Notre Dame blared from the speakers at PPL Park tonight when the final whistle sounded, announcing the Fighting Irish as NCAA men’s soccer champions for the first time, on the strength of their 2-1 victory over Maryland.

Andrew O'Malley (R)celebrates his goal. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Andrew O’Malley (R)celebrates his goal. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Senior center back Andrew O’Malley had broken a 1-1 deadlock when he powered home a header from a Harrison Shipp free kick in the 60th minute. It was extra special for the local product, who drew laughs afterward saying of his friends and family in the stands, “people think I’m good now.”

Notre Dame had been forced to come from behind when Patrick Mullins, who else?, staked the Terrapins to a 1-0 lead after pouncing on a loose ball following a corner kick in the 35th minute. Notre Dame midfielder Patrick Hodan’s hand kept the ball out of the net from Alex Shinsky’s shot, with Mullins pouncing on the rebound.

Patrick Mullins got Maryland's lone goal. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

Patrick Mullins got Maryland’s lone goal. (ISI Photos/Brad Smith)

That goal prompted an extraordinary scene after the game when Mullins was asked whether Hodan should have received a red card for an intentional hand ball. Mullins’ answer was remarkable. “That was definitely an amazing play, a lot things happened in a short period of time,” Mullins began. “It did hit the kid’s hand on the line, it bounced out, it came back out and I made a mistake on my part, and I’m very disappointed in myself for doing that.”

Mullins explained, “in the heat of the moment, I hit it down with my hand and like any good forward I put it in the net.” “That’s not who I am, and I’m very disappointed in how that play resulted.” Growing emotional Mullins went on, “all I can control are my own actions and I’m not happy with that action, and it’s definitely hard to swallow, because I don’t think that’s the kind of player I am, or the type of person.” Mullins finished by saying that, “I will regret that one (play) for the rest of my life.”

Back to the game, Notre Dame didn’t trail for long. Substitute Leon Brown slid in to knock home the equalizer just four minutes after Mullins had scored for Maryland. A throw in from Irish fullback Luke Mishu, who was very good on the day, was headed on by Nick Besler for Brown to finish.

Brown was forced into action when Notre Dame’s powerful center forward Vince Cicciarelli came down hard on his shoulder and was unable to continue. Notre Dame coach Bobby Clarke said later that Cicciarelli had dislocated his shoulder.

Maryland (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

It was a very entertaining final.(ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Maryland were strong in the first half, although their talisman Mullins was being kept in check by good team defense, led by ND center backs O’Malley and Grant Van De Casteele, and center midfielders Nick Besler and Connor Klekota.

Klekota was at the center of a second half handball controversy, when he seemed to handle on another goalmouth scramble. Maryland may well look back on this game and consider themselves unlucky, but the Terrapins did manage to put Notre Dame under heavy pressure as they chased the lead with the clock winding down.

Flamboyant substitute Alex Shinsky was a constant threat, he and Mikias Eticha were key in keeping that pressure on. Van De Casteele was immense down the stretch and Irish goalkeeper Patrick Wall grabbed up anything that managed to elude either Van De Casteele or O’Malley.

Notre Dame were crowned worthy Champs. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Notre Dame were crowned worthy Champs. (ISI Photos/Howard C. Smith)

Maryland had one last chance, ironically on a free kick via a Klekota handball. The foul occurred just outside the area and Mullins stepped up to take the free kick. Mullins got all of it, but his piledriver was well wide of the mark, and moments later it was time to Cheer! Cheer! for Old Notre Dame.

Most Outstanding Players
Harrison Shipp, Notre Dame
Patrick Mullins, Maryland

All-Tournament Team
Nick Besler, Notre Dame
Patrick Hodan, Notre Dame
Andrew O’Malley, Notre Dame
Harrison Shipp, Notre Dame
Grant Van De Casteele, Notre Dame
Tsubasa Endoh, Maryland
Patrick Mullins, Maryland
Zack Steffen, Maryland
Jordan Allen, Virginia
Darius Madison, Virginia
Michael Calderon, New Mexico

About Peter Nolan

Peter Nolan is a staff writer for the GotSoccer Magazine, covering MLS and other US leagues, He's GotSoccer's chief National Team Correspondent.
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