COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Patrick Mullins capped off his Ludwig Field career in style on Sunday with a first-half goal that sent fifth-seeded Maryland past 12th-seeded UC Irvine 1-0 and into the quarterfinals of the 2013 NCAA 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 during 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 Ambrose cross. He 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, a freshman, put together one of his best halves of the season to keep the Terps in front. He sprawled to his right to stop an Enrique Cardenas shot that was headed to the top corner.
Steffen 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 coach Sasho 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 at 4:30 p.m. next Saturday. It is Maryland's ninth quarterfinal appearance since 2002.