Potential MLS No.1 pick, heated rivalry highlight this weekend’s College Cup

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Patrick Mullins has done an awful lot on what could be the path to the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 MLS Superdraft. He won the 2012 Hermann Trophy as the nation’s best male player and just may repeat the feat this year. The 6-foot-1 forward has 16 goals this season and a boatload of career honors.

What he doesn’t have is an NCAA championship, and he can’t get it without knocking off heated rival Virginia on Friday in what amounts to their final battle as ACC foes.

2013 College Cup (in Philadelphia, Penn.)
FINAL FOUR:
(3) Notre Dame vs. (7) New Mexico, 530pm ET
(5) Maryland vs. (8) Virginia, 730pm ET
CHAMPIONSHIP: 3pm ET on Sunday

The Terps are the only returning school among the College Cup contestants, which is Atlantic Coast Conference-heavy with three of the four schools coming from the ACC. Maryland,  3-time champions, is hungry for its first title since 2008, while the Cavaliers have six titles to their name and would love little more than to deny Mullins the biggest accolade missing from his four years at College Park.

Mullins and teammate Schillo Tshuma went in the Top Four of MLS’ first mock draft lats month and are the headline prospects from the weekend. Notre Dame centerback Grant van de Casteele, Maryland winger Sunny Jane and New Mexico midfielder Michael Calderon and defender Kyle Venter are among the draft-rumored names on the pitch in Philadelphia.

Cheat sheet:

– Maryland beat Virginia 1-0 in the ACC title game last month and the two schools drew 3-3 at Charlottesville in October.

– This is Notre Dame’s first College Cup appearance.

– Notre Dame lost to Virginia in kicks during the ACC semifinals after the two teams played to a 3-3 stalemate. Virginia also beat the Irish 2-0 during the conference play.

– New Mexico’s lone College Cup appearance ended in a loss to Maryland in the 2005 championship game.