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Notre Dame faces Maryland in national championship game

Vicky Jacobsen | Saturday, December 14, 2013

The No. 3 Irish will face No. 5 Maryland on Sunday in Notre Dame’s first national championship game in program history on Sunday.

“We had a great regular season last year. We were the No. 1 seed overall coming into the [NCAA] tournament [in 2012], so we checked that off our list of accomplishments and brought the program to that next level,” senior forward Harry Shipp said, referring to Notre Dame’s postseason run in 2012 in which it lost in the third round. “I think this year we kind of had the goal of getting the program to a final four and winning the national championship.”

The Irish (16-1-6, 7-1-3 ACC) punched their ticket to the national final with a 2-0 win over No. 7 New Mexico on Friday. Sophomore midfielder Patrick Hodan netted both goals, continuing his torrid stretch; in four rounds Hodan has scored five goals, and the sophomore has now scored in six straight games.

“I remember [I was] with our athletic director [Jack Swarbrick], and Patrick was coming onto the field as a recruit at the end of the game,” Irish coach Bobby Clark said. “I said to Jack, ‘This is one of our top recruits.’ Jack kind of eyed him up and said, ‘He doesn’t look like much of a top recruit to me. I said, ‘Mark my words, this kid can play.’ He’s a little guy, he’s a thin guy. He’s like Superman when he puts that uniform on and starts playing.”

Maryland (17-3-5, 7-1-3 ACC) beat No. 8 Viriginia, 2-1, in the second semifinal match Friday night. Senior forward Patrick Mullins scored both goals for Maryland, and the Terrapins are 32-1-5 in games where he scores. Mullins, who won the 2012 MAC Hermann Trophy and is a finalist again this season, was responsible for Maryland’s lone goal when the Terrapins and Irish tied, 1-1, after two overtimes on Oct. 8 at Alumni Stadium.

“He’s a good player,” Terrapins sophomore midfielder Tsubasa Endoh said. “He’s been finishing live every time I’ve passed it, so I trust him.”

Clark said Maryland and Virginia “gave us the most problems” of all the teams the Irish played during the season, while Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski also said the 1-1 draw between the two teams was one of high points of the season.

“I thought we grew up a lot in that game,” Cirovski said. “We really changed a few things that we do and really clawed our way back into the game. I think it made us better.

“We’ll see what Sunday presents. I think it’s the two best teams in the country. I really believe that, sincerely.”

Notre Dame and Maryland shared the ACC regular-season title as both finished with conference records of 7-1-3.

The Irish have know outscored their opponents 12-3 in this NCAA tournament, while the Terrapins have bested their opponents by a combined total of 8-3. This is the first national championship appearance for Maryland since 2008, when the Terrapins won the national title. Maryland also won championships in 1968 (co-champions) and 2005.

The Irish and Terrapins will face off in the national championship game at 3 p.m. Sunday at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.

Contact Vicky Jacobsen at [email protected]