The Cavaliers erased deficits of 2-0 at the break and 3-1 in the second half, equalizing in the 87th minute through Nicko Corriveau. Junior netminder Calle Brown came through in the clutch for the Cavs, stopping two PKs in the shootout to set up sophomore forward Marcus Salandy-Defour to convert the decisive penalty.
“In my 18 years I think that was one of the best fight backs that I’ve had," UVA head coach George Gelnovatch said after the game. "I certainly challenged them at half time and the responses were good. The way we played them in the second half is the way we played them from the start last time. We were just a little funky to start with."
Notre Dame capped off a strong opening stretch of the game with a 21st minute goal. A perfectly threaded through ball from Connor Kloekota found Shipp, who calmly finished past Virginia goalkeeper Brown.
Five minutes later, UVA missed a good chance to equalize, as Darius Madison's flashed a wide-open header well over the Notre Dame goal. The profligacy was punished by the Irish when Patrick Hodan latched on the end of a Brandon Aubrey pass to double the advantage in the 45th minute.
It capped an impressive first-half performance from Notre Dame, as the offensive fluency provided by Shipp and Hodan left the Cavaliers trailing at the break.
However, Shipp missed an opportunity to possibly bury Virginia for good shortly into the second half. In the 53rd minute, the ACC Offensive Player of the Year stepped up to the spot after Corriveau was whistled for handling the ball in the area. But Shipp's PK clanged off the left goalpost, and was frantically cleared by the UVA defense, keeping the deficit at two.
Four minutes later the Cavliers won a penalty kick of their own, and sophomore midfielder Todd Wharton delivered, cutting the Notre Dame lead to 2-1.
After the goal Virginia continued to elbow its way back into the game, with an equalizing appearing in reach. But from a set piece, the Irish delivered what looked to be a knockout blow, as Andrew O'Malley swept home a saved Patrick Hodan free kick in the 81st minute.
Instead of leaving UVA in the dust, it set the table for a ferocious comeback. Frantically searching for a goal, Virginia's Salandy-Defour cut into the lead, as his left-footed shot from the top of the box in the 85th minute gave hope to the Cavaliers. The equalizer came two minutes later as the Cavs continued to press, when Salandy-Defour's diagonal ball found Corriveau at the far post, who volleyed home to tie it 3-3.
Both sides had half chances in overtime, and after each failed to grab a winner, it set the stage for Virginia's penalty kick victory.
And while it may have been a disappointing ending for Notre Dame, head coach Bobby Clark saw plenty of positives in it.
“Last year we won the BIG EAST Tournament and lost in the [NCAA tournament's] third round," he said after the game. "We were the number one seed when we lost to Indiana and we didn’t play particularly well. Hopefully, this year we’ll get a little bit more rest. We have a couple of guys beaten up. Leon Brown pulled his hamstring and [Nick] Besler just coming back, I don’t think he could have played another game. We certainly didn’t try to lose in penalty kicks. We tried to win. But when you look at the big picture, it might be a blessing in disguise.”
Sauers goal secures Maryland's spot in final
A second straight meeting in the ACC tournament semifinals between the Terps and Tigers yielded a physical encounter that Maryland freshman Michael Sauers ended with an overtime winner in the 100th minute.
Sauers latched on to a loose ball at the top of the penalty area, guiding a left-footed shot into the bottom corner to send the Terps through to Sunday's championship game.
“It felt like déjà vu all over again," Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski said after the game. "We had a great game against Clemson last year where we won in overtime. Clemson is a great team. For sure they are an NCAA tournament team...They’ve pushed us and they’ve stretched us and they’ve made us better. Tonight I was extremely proud of our overall commitment defending. Clemson came out very committed and in the first few minutes, we settled in. Both teams went toe to toe – it was an up and down game."
Maryland had a couple of chances in the first half. An acrobatic volley from Terps forward Schillo Tshuma came close to breaking the deadlock, while senior forward Patrick Mullins volleyed a shot high from just outside the six-yard box.
Other than that, the Tigers and Terps traded blows over 90 minutes, with Clemson lacking the right ball or split-second decision to create clear chances despite numerous promising moments in the final third. The Tigers nearly had a winner in overtime when Thomas McNamara's free kick deflected off the wall, forcing a save from Maryland goalkeeper Zackary Steffen. The overtime opportunity kind of summed up Clemson's night.
"We had chances," head coach Mike Noonan said. "For the most part we kept them out of the penalty area. Our final pass, our final shot wasn’t good enough. But I was very proud of the way our team played. Anytime we play against the top teams in the country we compete with them, proven we can beat them. Hopefully we can get the chance to do that in the NCAA Tournament."
The Terps will get the chance to defend their 2012 ACC tournament title against Virginia in Sunday's championship game.
Image Source: Mark Goldman, theACC.com