Thursday, December 11, 2008

Maryland Soccer Takes On St. John's in the College Cup

After a two-year hiatus, 2-seed Maryland has returned to the College Cup with a 1-nil victory over Creighton. Rodney Wallace scored the lone goal in the dominating contest.

Now Maryland will leave the safety of Ludwig Field for Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas for their semifinal matchup against the St. John's Red Storm on Friday. The winner moves on to the championship against the winner of Wake Forest-North Carolina. That's right, three ACC teams are in Frisco for the College Cup.

So far in the tournament, Maryland has dominated in their three contests despite the scores. Most of the time they play very solid soccer for at least 70 minutes, but they still have trouble putting opponents away. Their last two games were wins by one goal.

Their opponent is the 3-seed St. John's Red Storm, with a 19-2-3 record. In 2006 these two tangoed in the NCAA Tournament Round of 32. Maryland won with a strong first half, winning 2-nil, the last of three straight wins over St. John's in the NCAA Tournament.

The Red Storm has certainly been tested in this tournament. All three of their wins are by one goal, the last two being come from behind victories. Their last contest against Indiana had St. John's down 2-nil with nine minutes to go, but the Red Storm roared back to win 3-2 in overtime, capped by a penalty kick goal by junior Big East midfielder of the year Nelson Becerra (pictured), who has five game-winning goals this season. But their defense is lockdown, only 0.47 goals per game by their redshirt senior goalie Neal Kitson. Other than their NCAA Tournament wins, they also have defeated Virginia, Connecticut, and South Florida. They were the runner-up in the Big East championship, losing in a rematch against USF.

Maryland has two titles from 1968 and 2005, St. John's is still looking for their first. A battle of titans commences in Frisco, Texas, on Friday on ESPNU at 8:00 PM. One red team will advance, one heads home.

(Photo credit: Maryland athletics, St. John's athletics)

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