No. 3 Notre Dame vs. No. 5 Maryland | 2014 College Cup Final Match Preview

2013 College Cup Final

No. 3 Notre Dame (16-1-6, 7-1-3 ACC) vs. No. 5 Maryland (17-3-5, 7-1-3 ACC)

Sunday, December 15 - 3 pm ET; ESPNU

Path to the Semifinals

Notre Dame:

  • Round of 32: Notre Dame 4, Wisconsin 0
  • Sweet 16: Notre Dame 4, Wake Forest 2
  • Elite 8: Notre Dame 2, Michigan State 1
  • Final Four: Notre Dame 2, New Mexico 0

Maryland:

  • Round of 32: Maryland 3, Providence 1
  • Sweet 16: Maryland 1, UC Irvine 0
  • Elite 8: California 1, Maryland 2
  • Final Four: Maryland 2, Virginia 1

Preview

It’s somehow poetic that Notre Dame and Maryland are going to play each other for the national title this year.

The Fighting Irish are making a program-first appearance at College Cup in their first season in the ACC. Maryland, who have won two national titles since 2005, are angling for one more before they leave the ACC next year to move to the Big Ten.

Each team will field a finalist for the Hermann Trophy, the award for the best college soccer player in the country. Notre Dame’s Harrison Shipp has 12 goals and nine assists so far this season, and helped push the Irish past New Mexico in their semifinal with a two-assist performance (READ: Shipp's coming-out party).

Patrick Mullins has bagged 18 for the Terps, one better than his output in his Hermann-winning campaign last year (READ: Mullins backs up the hype in College Cup semis).

But the X-factor may yet turn out to be Notre Dame’s sophomore winger Patrick Hodan, who has seven goals through the Irish’s six games since the end of the regular season. But the Notre Dame midfield will have their hands full keeping a talented Terrapins team from its incisive passing game that neutralized Virginia in the semis.


Future Pros to Watch

Mikias Eticha, M, Maryland (D.C. United) – Eticha is just one of several D.C. United Academy products to take the field for the Terrapins, and the Black-and-Red should be particularly happy about the 5-foot-8, 145 midfielder from Falls Church, Va. Eticha’s long ball forward to Mullins in the 11th minute of Friday’s semifinal against Virginia helped Maryland break the deadlock, but Eticha did plenty of dirty work in the midfield as well, winning tackles and then having the composure to distribute smartly when he recovered possession.

Tsubasa Endoh, M, Maryland – Endoh has some time to decide where to take his talents as a professional – he’s a sophomore – but after his performance against Virginia on Friday, you can be sure that at least some MLS teams have written “continue to monitor” in pen next to his name in their scouting files. It remains to be seen whether he can do it again against a more experienced and arguably more physical Notre Dame squad.

Vince Cicciarelli, F, Notre Dame – Cicciarelli has had to overcome some bad luck to get to this point: After sitting out his freshman year, he tore his ACL and missed all but one game of his sophomore season. Now that he’s had a full college campaign under his belt, we’re starting to see what he’s made of. So far, so good, and if Cicciarelli can keep up the work he was doing on Friday opening up space for his midfielders, Notre Dame has a very good chance to win.