Since 1994, every Maryland soccer player who stayed four years has played in the College Cup.
The streak continued Saturday night.
Maryland forward Jake Pace scored the go-ahead goal and the Terps defeated Louisville 3-1 in the Elite Eight before a boisterous crowd of 3,556 at Ludwig Field.
Maryland (20-1-2) will advance to the College Cup in Hoover, Ala., for the first time since 2008 when it won the national championship. The Terps will face the Georgetown Hoyas, who defeated the University of San Diego 3-1 earlier in the day to advance to the round of four.
“I knew that we were going to come out with a magical performance tonight. And that’s what that was,” Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski said. “We played a great game against one of the great teams in college soccer.”
By contrast, on a day when Louisville (14-6-1) needed its best, coach Ken Lolla said the Cardinals played their worst.
“It’s tough to be disappointed because we didn’t play well,” Lolla said. “We probably had our worst game of the year. [We] really didn’t show what Louisville is like.”
Despite being out-shot 9-4 in the opening period, the Cardinals looked poised to go to overtime with a tie score. But with just 40 second remaining in the first 45 minutes, Pace headed Dakota Edwards pass into the net for what proved to be the game-winner.
“”It’s a tough time to give up a goal,” Lolla said. “We felt like we weathered it a little bit, especially with the equalizer to get back in it.”
All week Lolla emphasized that the Cardinals (14-6-1) needed to play a strong first 15 minutes to set the tone. Although Louisville held the Terps scoreless during the stretch, Maryland gained the momentum with several good chances, including one that bounced off the post.
Maryland (20-1-2) broke the scoreless tie in the 33rd minute when senior defender London Woodberry headed Taylor Kemp’s pass into the net.
The Cardinals fought back and Zach Foxhoven recorded the equalizer for the Cardinals on a pass from Dylan Mares just over five minutes later.
“We had a great year. I thought we were really coming together as a team,” Foxhoven said. “To not come out and play as sharp as we have before, it’s disappointing.”
“It really gave us some momentum going in,” Pace said. “Then coming out, we were all excited to come out and put another [goal] in.”