HOOVER, Ala. (AP) — The Georgetown men’s soccer team has already managed one first by making the NCAA College Cup.
Now, the third-seeded Hoyas are aiming for another big milestone when they meet neighboring traditional power No. 2 Maryland — which has won all 28 previous countable meetings — Friday in the semifinal match between two schools located about 12 miles apart.
They haven’t met since 2009 other than a preseason match a year ago, which Georgetown won.
“It didn’t count, but the majority of these guys’ only experience against Maryland is that we won,” Hoyas coach Brian Wiese said. “They’re not walking in here saying, `This is an untamable lion.’ History’s on their side, right?
“Hopefully 29th game lucky. That’s what we’re banking on.”
The winner of that Washington, D.C.-area matchup faces either No. 8 seed Creighton (17-3-3) or No. 16 Indiana (14-5-3) for the championship on Sunday.
The Hoyas (19-3-2) had won only four NCAA tournament matches before advancing with victories over UNC Charlotte and San Diego and a 1-1 third-round tie with Syracuse.
Wiese and his players clearly aren’t harping much on the one-sided history with the Terrapins (20-1-2).
“Despite the history, it’s going to be a good game,” midfielder Ian Christianson said. “We don’t worry about it too much.”
This is Maryland’s 12th College Cup but first since winning national title No. 3 in 2008.
The Terrapins are led by Patrick Mullins, a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy given to the nation’s top player. Mullins has produced 16 goals for the team that leads the nation in scoring.
He’s happy with the first-round matchup, even if it required such a long journey to arrange it.
“We love it,” Mullins said. “We’re glad to be down here playing a local rival for us.”
Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski made it clear this was his team’s intended destination by having “Sweet Home Alabama” blare over the loudspeakers after home wins this season.
“It’s become a favorite,” Terrapins defender Taylor Kemp said. “We’re not sick of it at all. If we’re able to hear that song at the end of the game, we know we did a good job.”
Kemp has had a tough road to get here. He has only played in 11 games and traveled to Germany in mid-October for surgery to repair a sports hernia.
The other semifinal game features teams that had to win a pair of road games to advance.
Creighton earned its second straight College Cup appearance by snapping Connecticut’s 38-match home winning streak with a 1-0 win on Christian Blandon’s goal with 90 seconds left.
Creighton’s only previous College Cup victory was a 2-1 triple-overtime win over Indiana in 2000. Midfielder Jose Gomes and Notre Dame forward Ryan Finley are the other MAC Hermann finalists.
The Hoosiers have a record 81 NCAA tournament wins and won their second straight championship and fourth in seven years in 2004.
“There’s no level of intimidation because that happened in the 90s,” said Creighton coach Elmar Bolowich, who is 4-1 against Indiana. “Some of our guys weren’t even born then. I don’t see that being a factor.”
Indiana coach Todd Yeagley was hired at his alma mater in 2009 and has quickly gotten the program back to the College Cup.
He can draw on his own experience as a four-time All-American who helped lead the Hoosiers to the championship game in 1994 and the semifinals three years earlier.
“I’m just trying to tell them to enjoy it,” Yeagley said. “I know that when I was a player, that was something my coach said was to take it all in, enjoy it, play loose. You’re here because you put a body of work together.
“Now, it’s just, leave everything you’ve got out there on this field and enjoy the experience.”
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)