The Washington Times - December 14, 2008, 03:32PM

Graham Zusi scored a huge goal against Southern Methodist as a freshman in the College Cup semifinals.

Three years later, the Maryland star topped it when he returned to college soccer’s biggest stage.

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Zusi delivered the overtime winner Friday against St. John’s, then scored in the second half today against North Carolina as Maryland locked up its second title in four seasons.

Those days when the Terrapins kept coming so-so-so-so close, only to leave without a championship (1998, 2002, 2003, 2004)? Those are long, long gone.

Say hello to what is the sport’s best program this decade, a 1-0 victory today in Frisco, Texas, the shred of evidence needed to pull Maryland even with Indiana in titles since 2000 (two).

It’ll be curious to hear what coach Sasho Cirovski thinks of this championship compared to the sensation of winning in 2005. That team was the unquestioned favorites entering the tournament. This time, he had a well-regarded No. 2 that only became the real team to beat when North Carolina upset Wake Forest on Friday.

It should be pointed out Maryland won the title with a dominant defense, winning its final 16 games by a combined score of 28-6. Take only the eight ACC and NCAA tournament games, and the margin was 10-1.

Bottom line: True to the cliche, defense won the Terps their second title this decade. And I suspect Cirovski will be saying just that in his postgame press conference in the next hour or so.

Patrick Stevens