Freshman Michael Sauers (Archbishop Curley) scored the winning goal in the 86th minute to give No. 5 seed Maryland a 2-1 victory at No. 4 seed California on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the NCAA men's soccer championship.
Sauers found the back of the net from 25 yards after Mikias Eticha passed him the ball in space for Maryland's (16-3-5) 10th consecutive victory. The win avenges a September loss to the Bears. Junior Alex Shinsky also scored for the Terps, who advance to their 13th College Cup.
“Our goal in the beginning of the year was to return to the College Cup," coach Sasho Cirovski said. "After being a team that started out learning a lot about ourselves and dropping a few games early, we showed our resiliency, our character and our championship fiber and have become a very complete team.”
Maryland will face Virginia, the No. 8 seed, on Friday at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. The longtime ACC rivals played to a 3-3 draw in the regular season and met in the conference final, won by Maryland, 1-0, on a late own goal.
The other semifinal will pit No. 3 seed Notre Dame against No. 7 seed New Mexico.
Virginia (13-5-5) advanced Friday with a 2-1 victory over visiting Connecticut.
Shinsky put the Terps on the board in the 33rd minute with a header to the near post from close range off a free kick by Mikey Ambrose.
Stefano Bonomo gave Cal (14-5-2) the equalizer five minutes into the second half. After a point-blank save by goalkeeper Zack Steffen, Bonomo followed with a tap-in from a yard out.
Sauers, a D.C. United youth academy player from Baltimore County, put the Terps on the top with his third goal of the postseason when he beat Cal goalie Alex Mangels on a long strike to his right for the winner with 85:41 to play.
“I want to congratulate Kevin Grimes, his players and Cal men's soccer. I think they are a complete class act. This was the second of two memorable games this year,” Cirovski said. “Obviously we are ecstatic we found a way to get a result here and we get to continue to play next week in Philly."