Maryland's Jake Pace has come off the bench and made the most of his minutes this season.
With the final seconds of the first half ticking down in the NCAA men's soccer quarterfinal, Pace got behind No. 10 Louisville's defense and scored the go-ahead goal on a header off a cross from Dakota Edwards. As a Howard County native, it was the type of goal Pace dreamed about his entire life.
The No. 2 Terrapins later added another goal by leading scorer Patrick Mullins for a decisive 3-1 victory before an announced 3,556 Saturday. Maryland advanced to its seventh Final Four under coach Sasho Cirovski and plays Georgetown on Friday in Hoover, Ala.
"That's what Jake does, he comes in and is a pain for teams to deal with," said, Cirovski, now in his 20th season. "He's an aggressive and courageous player. We were getting a lot of service in the box. We knew that Jake could get on the end of it and he did.
Maryland (20-1-2) lost to Louisville, 4-2, in the third round of last season's NCAA tournament. The Terps then routed the Cardinals, 3-0, in this year's season opener for both teams. Both Maryland and the Cardinals (14-6-1) played tough regular-season schedules with each facing at least nine teams that advanced to this year's NCAA tournament.
The Terps entered the game as the nation's highest-scoring offense, averaging 2.59 goals per game, and they like to attack teams early, forcing the opposition to match their energy or face having to play from behind. Cardinals coach Ken Lolla implored his team all week to withstand the opening onslaught so they could eventually settle down and try to dictate the pace of the game.
The Terps outshot Louisville, 16-5, and earned nine corner kicks, compared to one for Louisville.
"It's tough to be disappointed because we didn't play well," Lolla said. "I thought we had our worst game of the year. I thought we weathered [the first 15 minutes] really well. Unfortunately, we could get much going after it."
Maryland wasted little time creating a chance when a bicycle kick by Schillo Tshuma hit the post in the opening minute. The Terps finally broke through in the 34th minute when London Woodberry scored on a header off a free kick from Taylor Kemp. Louisville, however, answered just 6 minutes later on a goal by Zach Foxhoven.
The Terps regained the lead in the 45th minute off the header by Pace, who scored five goals off the bench this season. Maryland dictated play in the second half and continued to threaten Louisville by pushing long balls into the penalty area.
"I got in the game and coach just told me what to do," said Pace, a redshirt junior. "It really gave us some momentum going in and coming out. I was excited to put another one in."
Mullins then scored his 16th goal of the season on a tap-in in the 68th minute and Terps cruised the rest of the way.
"At the end of training yesterday, I met with the team in the locker room and told them how much I love them," Cirovski said. "And I told them how proud I am of this year and what they accomplished to this point. No one can take that away from them."
Louisville 1 0- 1
Maryland 2 1 - 3
Goals: L-Foxhoven ; M-Woodberry, Pace, Mullins
Assists: L-Mares ; M-Kemp, Edwards.
Saves: L-Mauro 5; M-Cardona 1