Semifinal pits familiar foes in Maryland and Virginia
PHILADELPHIA -- Friday’s second semifinal features two well-seasoned opponents, both in familiarity with each other as well as appearances in the Men’s College Cup.
Virginia will face Maryland at 7:30 p.m. ET Friday in Philadelphia for an ACC showdown. The duo joins a third ACC team, Notre Dame, which will take on New Mexico in the first semifinal of the day.
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Eighth-seeded Virginia is the lowest seed headed to PPL Park, but this storied program will look to use experience in its favor. In its 35 trips to the NCAA tournament, it is the Cavaliers' 11th appearance in the Men’s College Cup, and first since 2009. UVa is 11-4-2 all time in College Cup matches, including 7-3 in the semifinals, and has won an impressive six national crowns (1989, 1991-94, 2009).
The Cavs are also playing in their 33rd consecutive NCAA tournament, dating to 1981, which is the longest active streak in DI soccer. Their all-time record for the NCAA tourney is 56-28-4.
"It never, ever gets old," Virginia head coach George Gelnovatch said, "but it's the first time for these guys, and there's a different look and brightness and freshness and excitement about the group, about going to the College Cup. The College Cup is something special."
Gelnovatch has been at the helm for 18 seasons and this is his fourth time leading the Cavaliers to the College Cup. His squad is outscoring foes 44-23 in 2013 and features a balanced threat of players on the field with 10 having two or more goals on the season.
Maryland doesn’t have far to drive to get to Philadelphia for its 13th semifinal battle.
College Cup territory is also nothing new for the Terps. In the past 16 years, the squad has eight semifinal appearances, the most in the country. With 33 showings in the NCAA tournament overall, Maryland has moved into the postseason for 13 consecutive years. No other school has done so more than five consecutive seasons. The Terps also advanced to the third round for a nation-best 12th consecutive season. Overall, Maryland has taken home three national championships.
Another notable for the Terps is that every four-year player since 1998 has been part of a College Cup team. The 15-year run is the longest active streak in the country.
"Our goal in the beginning of the year was to return to the College Cup,” Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “After being a team that started out learning a lot about ourselves and dropping a few games early, we showed our resiliency, our character and our championship fiber and have become a very complete team.”
Cirovski has 19 NCAA postseason appearances and two national championships under his belt during his tenure with Maryland. He looks heavily to the Terps’ dangerous duo in Mullins and Schillo Tshuma. Mullins leads the ACC in both goals and points, while Tshuma is second on the team in goals.