Nov. 17, 2008

Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

CARY, N.C. - Maryland midfielder Jeremy Hall scored in the third minute to lift the Terps men's soccer team to its third ACC Championship Sunday over Virginia, 1-0, at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.

Maryland (18-3-0, 6-2-0) came out firing literally as the whistle blew as Graham Zusi launched a shot from the middle of the field that nearly put the Terps on the board, but Cavalier keeper Michael Giallombardo leaped up, grabbed the ball and barely kept his balance to stay in front of the net and make the save.

The Terps didn't waste any more time registering its first goal of the game, however, as Hall scored at 2:38 off a perfectly served ball from freshman Casey Townsend. Townsend drove the ball down the near sideline and floated a cross leading Hall directly into middle of the field for the close-range score. It is Hall's 13th goal this season and his second in the tournament.

Townsend went on to register seven shots in the first half of play, including one that by all indications appeared to cross the line in the game's 15th minute. Townsend's shot was a laser that ricocheted off the cross bar from five yards out. He came dangerously close to scoring again when a goal was called back with ten minutes left to play in the period due to an offside penalty.

The teams exchanged blows in the second half, with Virginia utilizing the wind at its back to rev up its offense. The Cavaliers had its best shot at goal with exactly three minutes remaining when Jonathan Villanueva placed a free kick into the box for Brian Ownby, but his header went just wide of the goal. Maryland outshot the Cavaliers, 15-12.

The title is the first for the Maryland men's soccer program since 2002. The win is the 11th consecutive for the Terps this season, dating back to Oct. 3. The Terrapin defense was spectacular, registering three shutouts in the tournament.

"We knew the best defense would win this tournament," head coach Sasho Cirovski said. "I challenged this team to define their identity and we made this a program goal. I am extremely happy and proud of this team."

Hall was named ACC Tournament MVP, while junior Omar Gonzalez and freshmen Zac MacMath and Townsend were also named to the all-tourney squad.

The Terps now await their NCAA destiny with the bracket announcement tomorrow on ESPNews between 6 and 6:30 p.m.