STORRS, CT (December 2) The No. 8 University of Connecticut mens soccer team will travel to College Park, Maryland to face No. 2 University of Maryland on Saturday, December 7 at 1:00 pm at Ludwig Field in an Elite Eight game of the 2002 Mens College Cup. The winner of Saturdays game will advance to the Mens College Cup Championship on December 13 & 15 at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, Texas.
Connecticut, the No. 7 seed in the tournament, holds a 17-5 overall record and ended play at home (Morrone Stadium) with a perfect 11-0 record. UConn advanced to the Elite Eight after defeating Indiana (1-0) on Sunday afternoon for the teams 11th shutout of the season. The Huskies are led by the duo of Damani Ralph and Cesar Cuellar, combining for 34 of UConns 51 goals and 14 of 17 game-winners this season. Ralph, the 2002 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year and a M.A.C. Hermann trophy finalist, has scored 18 goals and five assists for a team-leading 41 points, while Cuellar has recorded 16 goals and three assists for 35 points. Sixth-year head coach Ray Reid will be leading the Huskies to their seventh overall quarterfinal round game in soccer program history.
The No. 2 seed in the tournament, Maryland used a golden goal by Domenic Mediate to defeat St. Louis, 1-0, and advance to the quarterfinals on Sunday afternoon. The Terrapins hold a 19-4-0 overall record, and are also a perfect 12-0 at home this season. Abe Thompson, who has notched 14 goals and eight assists for 36 points, leads the team in scoring. The Terrapins are looking to advance to the final four for the seventh time in school history, and leading the team is tenth-year head coach Sasho Cirovski.
The all-time series between UConn and Maryland is in favor of the Terps, the 4-3 advantage. Most recently, Connecticut blanked Maryland, 2-0 on October 12, 2002 in Storrs. Goals from Ralph and Leandro de Oliveira helped the No. 7 Huskies upset No. 6 Maryland before a crowd of 4,500 home fans. The last time the teams faced each other in NCAA action was during the 1960 season, when Maryland handed the Huskies a 4-0 loss, the first time UConn played in the NCAA post-season tournament.
Photos by: Mohit Chadha