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Matchnight: College Cup

Greetings from the House of Pizza in Frisco.

A TV reminder: The first match between top-seeded Wake Forest and No. 13 North Carolina will kick off at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The nightcap pitting No. 2 Maryland and No. 3 St. John's will begin at 8 p.m. on ESPNU. You can watch the Terps-Red Storm match on tape tomorrow morning at 11 a.m. on ESPN2. Sunday's final is set for ESPN2 at 1 p.m.

A few things you should know.....

*This is the first time three teams from the same conference have advanced to the final four. Last year, Wake and Virginia Tech represented the ACC in the College Cup. The year before, it was Virginia and Wake.

*Big crowd? Um, no. Perhaps four thousand by the time tonight's second game starts. Tarps are covering the seats behind the south goal. Weather: About 60 degrees and clear. If ever there was a year the College Cup really needed to be in Cary, N.C., just outside Raleigh, to take advantage of the ACC's following, it was this year. Cary will be the site next December.

*When Sasho Cirovski was hired by Maryland in 1993, a pair of future national team coaches -- Bob Bradley (Princeton) and Steve Sampson (Santa Clara) -- were among the initial candidates. Cirovski was also approached about 12 years ago by Connecticut and a few years back by Ohio State. Yes, Cirovski has a distant family connection to MLS veteran forward Jovan Kirovski. (At some point during the immigation process from the former Yugoslavia, the spelling on one of the last names changed.)

*Cirovski was destined to coach the Terps: His father went by the name "Trpe" and, while a student at Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the main intersection on campus was Hartford and Maryland streets. His first head coaching job was at Hartford before he went to Maryland.

*North Carolina lost five straight heading into the NCAA tournament but, thanks to a series of upsets, did not have to face a seeded opponent in its three matches.

*Defending champion Wake is "unbeaten" in 12 straight tournament games. How? In 2006, the Deacons were ousted in the semifinals by UC Santa Barbara on penalty kicks, which is officially a tie.

If you are watching the matches at home, your pregame, in-game and postgame comments are welcome here.

UPDATE: In the first game, North Carolina (15-7-1) went ahead on Brian Shriver's fourth-minute header and shocked defending champion Wake Forest, 1-0. The Demon Deacons (21-2-1) were shut out for only the second time this year. Tar Heels GK Brooks Haggerty made four excellent saves in the second half, Wake star Marcus Tracy hit the crossbar in the 87th minute and UNC escaped a possible handball call in the box with five seconds left.

UPDATE: Maryland dominated St. John's throughout the second semifinal, but missed opportunities and the spectacular play of Red Storm senior goalkeeper Neal Kitson kept the game scoreless. Given the option, perhaps St. John's would have chosen to go directly to penalty kicks after the opening whistle. Yes, their play was that cautious and unimaginative. Neither side threatened in the first overtime, but then with about five minutes left in the second session, Graham Zusi ensured a just result with a 26-yard free kick into the left side of the net. 1-0 Maryland.

Read my match report from the print edition and web site.

Maryland vs. UNC, Sunday at 1 p.m.

By Steve Goff  |  December 12, 2008; 4:33 PM ET
Categories:  College Soccer  
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Next: Qualifying Site Update


Go Terps!!!!!!

Posted by: Smitty8 | December 12, 2008 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Great stuff, Steve. I haven't followed the college game much, but thanks to the Insider I'm getting into it. Here's hoping for some good soccer tonight.


Posted by: jezz | December 12, 2008 5:01 PM | Report abuse

I know FIFA would consider losing on penalties a draw, but would the NCAA?

Posted by: EricB1 | December 12, 2008 5:09 PM | Report abuse

1-0 UNC

40 min left in the 1st half

Posted by: RSF85 | December 12, 2008 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Go Maryland Go!

Posted by: Colm1 | December 12, 2008 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Deserved penalty by UNC, uncalled.

Posted by: redskinsux | December 12, 2008 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Carolina looking good...they could beat Wake.

Posted by: Beckster1 | December 12, 2008 6:16 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, but will Cirovski someday go pro, or even national?

Posted by: fischy | December 12, 2008 6:28 PM | Report abuse

I just turned the game on. It's the definition of sparse.

Shame they had to go to Frisco instead of holding at SMU's Ford Field again. I'll bet the would have done much better attendance-wise.

Go 'Stangs. Oh wait, we're not in it? I thought Hyndman was a great coach. Oh, wait, he's at FCD now? Rebuilding 101.



Posted by: jayrockers | December 12, 2008 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Four eastern teams in a final four in Texas -- it doesn't matter where you hold it, it's not going to draw anybody.

Posted by: Steve Goff | December 12, 2008 7:00 PM | Report abuse

Pitch looks great!

Consistent possession, eh, not so much....

Posted by: JkR- | December 12, 2008 7:11 PM | Report abuse

UNC defending with what appears to be 15 guys....

Posted by: JkR- | December 12, 2008 7:14 PM | Report abuse

2 Wake shots off the post in about..5 seconds.

God I miss Ludwig Field.

Posted by: Colm1 | December 12, 2008 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Go, Dukes! Well, it's at least I-AA is a real football playoff.

Posted by: delantero | December 12, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Also watching the Dukes. Ouch...

C'mon JMU!

Posted by: JkR- | December 12, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Do they ever have a large crowd in Dall-Ass for soccer? I remember plenty of empty seats in the '94 Men's World Cup!

Posted by: 9Nine9 | December 12, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

Well I guess that's why they play the games. Congrats to the Tar Heels.

Posted by: Pedalada | December 12, 2008 10:31 PM | Report abuse

Go Terps!

Posted by: KireDCU | December 12, 2008 10:38 PM | Report abuse

Wow! What an ending. Beautiful strike from Zusi.

Posted by: griffin1108 | December 12, 2008 10:48 PM | Report abuse

I hope what you think is true Steve, a men's final down in Cary next year this time would probably work out for me right much...:-)

Posted by: DadRyan | December 13, 2008 12:42 AM | Report abuse

Oh sweet Mama Jeezus,

Pachuca had the chance to beat Al Ahly in the 93rd minute, AND BLEW IT.


Waitaminnit -- why am I cheering on a non-MLS team?!? Somebody get me some new drugs... :-)

Posted by: Juan-John | December 13, 2008 1:37 AM | Report abuse

I can't believe I'm actually rooting for Pachuca, now that they're beating up Al Ahly 3-2 in extra time...

Posted by: Juan-John | December 13, 2008 1:51 AM | Report abuse

Wake-UNC: I was busy getting Ledo pizza, so I missed large chunks of this one. However, what I saw was a Wake team that seemed to think the game was a formality. They did step it up late, but bad luck (karma, perhaps, for what looked like a penalty that was not called for UNC late-ish in the 1st half) came at the worst time, as it usually does for teams that don't come ready to play. UNC didn't look that impressive, but they came to fight; Wake came to check out the field before the final.

MD-St. John's: The Red Storm did commit fully to defending with everything they had, blocking shots and clogging lanes left and right. Unfortunately, this meant they had absolutely nothing left for attacking, and it showed. You're the #3 team in the country, and in a semifinal you're going with a full-out bunker? Pathetic.

Maryland should have put this one away, but as has happened throughout the tournament their finishing was lacking. Townsend should have scored early after Herrick set him up about 3 yards out, several other decent chances were spurned before halftime, and then Herrick conjured up a classic "it was easier to score" miss after halftime. In each MD game that I've seen, I've thought Hall was playing on a different level from the other 21 players on the field; today, it was Zusi, not Hall. I thought Hall looked a bit subdued other than some flashes, while Zusi seemed to be having a 1v1 duel with Kitson, who was superb. It took a real moment of magic for Zusi to finally beat him, though the foul looked a bit soft (and I'm entirely biased towards Maryland). Still, St. John's was entirely negative and deserved to lose, so I won't have much sympathy.

Pachuca-Al Ahly: I only saw the last 10 minutes of regulation and the extra time period (up until a minute after Pachuca went up 4-2). Los Tuzos looked impressive, though I was upset to notice that Torres had been in but came off before I turned the game on. Anyway, I was hoping Pachuca would win so CONCACAF clubs (including DC United) all get a bit more respect. The next step in that mission is dealing with LDU Quito, who I believe is very much a team that Pachuca can beat. If they can beat LDU and not get embarrassed by Man. United (nope, not giving Gamba Osaka or Adelaide United much of a chance), it will boost the whole region. This is a club that MLS clubs have had some real battles with. If they can have a good showing in the Club World Cup, so too can an MLS club once one finally gets there.

Posted by: Chest_Rockwell | December 13, 2008 5:56 AM | Report abuse

Sunday at 1PM. Check.

I have family visiting. I'll have to send them out of the house. Maybe I'll suggest shopping... on Rockville Pike... in the holiday season. The traffic alone should take one hour.

Posted by: I-270Exit1 | December 13, 2008 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, but will Cirovski someday go pro, or even national?

Posted by: fischy | December 12, 2008 6:28 PM

Goff's profile in the driveway version of Friday's Post seemed to make it clear that Cirovski had considered but rejected these options, and that he is quite happy where he is. But just wait for the fire-Soehn crowd to latch on to this in

Posted by: universityandpark | December 13, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

I just caught up on my Friday night soccer by watching Maryland's win. Nice performances by Zusi and Kitson. Not many Americans in MLS are consistently dangerous on freekicks so that (plus his overall game) should raise Zusi's stock going into the MLS combine. MLS has a history of offering very low $ contracts to 4-year seniors.

Enjoyed watching the whole Pachuca - Al Ahly game last night, too. It was very cruel for Pachuca to be down 2-0 at halftime after completely dominating the 1st half except for AbouTrika's counterattacks. Then Pachuca got very fortunate as the Egyptians seemed to score a legit goal right at the start of the 2nd half that was called offsides. Right after that 2nd half sub Luis Montes (Zach Wells may still have near-post nightmares about him) sent in a bouncing freekick that passed right by several players and went in to bring Pachuca back into the game.

Chaco Gimenez carried Pachuca to victory. Besides his 2 excellent goals he gathered the team together for a prolonged huddle on the field at the end of the 1st half to light a fire under their rear ends.

Posted by: Joel_M_Lane | December 13, 2008 1:47 PM | Report abuse

Four eastern teams in a final four in Texas -- it doesn't matter where you hold it, it's not going to draw anybody.

Posted by: Steve Goff | December 12, 2008 7:00 PM

Maybe Cirovski's idea to extend the season might improve the draw.... Of course, the later you go, the more certain it is that the tourney will be played down South. Perhaps, if Miami builds a SSS, that would be a great place to hold the tourney...over winter break -- although, I imagine hotel rooms would be hard to come by.

Maryland looked pretty good for that level, though Hall, Zusi, Townsend -- any one could have ended it much earlier with better finishing. That said, they ran into a hot goalie, and still pulled it out. Odds are in their favor Sunday, if they still have legs left.

Posted by: fischy | December 13, 2008 2:12 PM | Report abuse

What an exciting weekend! OMIGAWD! First, we were invited to the Caps game at the same time the soccer was on ESPN-PU and ESPN2. We saw half of the first game from Frisco at the Greene Turtle in Verizon Center, then an an hour of hockey upstairs, then the 8 p.m. Terps game from Friso, once again back in the Greene Turtle. Because I'm a fanatic Terps soccer fan, and also a, ahem, more mature matron, everyone was so solicitous of me as though I were some kind of innocent. It was a delight! We didn't know that Wake was going home until we got down for the Terps game. Even though I'm sure Sasho's team would've loved playing the Deacs in revenge for the final, I was relieved -- I want a Terps Triumph! The NCs played their hearts out -- and Wake seemed to be wiped out from their two previous games -- why did they run up the scores? Were they too tired for the wild hunger of NC?
OK, we're ready for Sunday -- oh, my, what a pleasure. And what a treat that the win goes to Grammy Zusi, the most mature of the Terps, the solid, always rady, always sacrificing,senior, the stalwart, the beloved!!
Sunday will be a fabulous game -- can't wait. Hugs to Sasho! And a big hello to the Moms and Dads we met in Cary, especially Renee Costanzo and Graham's mom and Drew's dad and Mrs. Delagarza. Terps rock!
Bob and Sharon Buck, DC

Posted by: sbuck | December 13, 2008 10:26 PM | Report abuse

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