COLLEGE PARK - With a second-half goal from sophomore midfielder A.J. Godbolt and a collectively strong effort for 90 minutes, the Maryland men's soccer team scored a 1-0 win over St. John's in yesterday's NCAA tournament quarterfinals, earning the third-seeded Terrapins their third straight trip to the College Cup.
In avenging a 1-0 loss to St. John's in last year's semifinals, Maryland (17-5-2) will look for another breakthrough in Friday's semifinal game in Carson, Calif., against today's Indiana-Tulsa winner. The Terps' past two seasons have ended in the semifinals.
Yesterday, Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski said he was thrilled to get back to soccer's final four with a resilient group that came into the season with five new starters.
"It's exhilarating because it's so hard to get there once with the single-elimination tournament and then it's difficult to get back, but we were expected to last year," said the Terps' 12th-year coach. "This year, people didn't know what to expect from us. But we knew we were going to be a great team with a chance to be the greatest ever at Maryland. The pieces fit, the attitude came together and the hunger stayed."
With 4,404 watching at Ludwig Field yesterday, Godbolt was plenty hungry as the only substitute used by Cirovski.
Senior midfielder Domenic Mediate curled a cross from the left side that Godbolt solidly headed home at the far post in the game's 73rd minute.
"I saw Domenic on the left side whip the ball in and was able to push by my guy and head the ball down between [goalkeeper Bill Gaudette's] legs," said Godbolt.
To that point, Maryland had controlled much of the play, with Gaudette - the difference in last year's semifinal with nine saves - again turning back a couple of quality chances.
After the Terps took the lead, their defense effectively handled a late push from 11th-seeded St. John's (12-6-4). Maryland senior goalkeeper Noah Palmer made one save for his program-best 34th career shutout.
The Terps have won nine straight NCAA tournament games at Ludwig Field, and yesterday's turnout was the largest for a playoff game there and the second largest overall.
St. John's 0 0 - 0
Maryland 0 1 - 1
Goal: M-Godbolt. Assist: M-Mediate. Saves: SJ-Gaudette 4; M-Palmer 1.