CHESTER, Pa. -- Patrick Mullins scored his 17th and 18th goals of the season to lead Maryland to a 2-1 victory against Virginia in the NCAA semifinals on Friday night at PPL Park.
The Terrapins (17-3-5) will vie for their third national championship in the past nine years when they face Notre Dame — a 2-0 winner against New Mexico in the first semifinal — in the title game Sunday.
Maryland goalie Zack Steffen, from the Philadelphia area, finished with five saves, including a diving stop on Brian James with less than three minutes remaining to preserve the win.
"Before the game started, I said it's going to take a special moment by a special player," Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski said. "And Patrick Mullins found two special passes and had two great finishes. And Zack came up with a great save at the end that very few 'keepers can make."
Mullins scored in the 11th and the 76th minutes, receiving perfect lofted through balls on both goals — the first from Mikias Eticha and the second from Tsubasa Endoh.Mullins, a finalist to win his second consecutive MAC Hermann Trophy as the nation's best player, leads Division I in scoring this season and is second in Maryland history with 46 goals. The Terps have lost only once in four years when Mullins scores.
"As a forward, all you can do is make hard runs and hope the balls get there," Mullins said. "When you have great players feeding you the ball, more times than not they're going to get there. Tonight we got two great services and I made sure to put them away."
Virginia (13-6-5) got on the board after Maryland's Dan Metzger took down Marcus Salandy-Defour in the box and Todd Wharton scored the ensuing penalty kick in the 77th minute.
At that point, Mullins, projected to be one of the top overall picks in the Major League Soccer SuperDraft next month, delivered a message to his team.
"I just looked all the guys in the eyes and I said, 'Boys, we just need to relax and remain focused on what we're doing,'" Mullins said. "I thought we were a little unfortunate on the PK but I thought the whole game defensively we were good."
The Cavaliers, who also lost to perennial rival Maryland in the ACC championship game last month, had other chances to score. In the 49th minute, Philadelphia native Darius Madison blasted a shot that Steffen saved, with the ball then careening off the post.
Steffen and Madison are both products of the Philadelphia Union youth academy system and had many of their friends and family in attendance at PPL Park, the Union's home stadium.
"We actually got beat by two guys," Virginia coach George Gelnovatch said. "The goalkeeper and [Mullins]. And I think we outplayed the rest of their team."