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Maryland wins NCAA men’s soccer title, beating Akron 1-0

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SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) Amar Sejdic scored on a penalty kick in the 57th minute and Maryland held off Akron 1-0 on Sunday night to win its fourth NCAA soccer title.

“It’s a moment that I’ve thought of since I came to Maryland. I knew that if the moment came I wanted to be the guy to step up and take it,” Sejdic said. “Scoring a goal in a meaningful match like that and celebrating with all the players is something that I’ll remember forever.”

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Akron’s Colin Biros kicked Johaness Bergmann in the face pursuing the ball inside the 18-yard box, resulting in the penalty shot. Sejdic calmly converted the opportunity with a well-struck shot to the right of Ben Lundt after the goalkeeper guessed wrong and dove to the left.

“I thought he would go to my left and he went to my right,” Lundt said.

Dayne St. Clair made two saves in Maryland’s fifth straight shutout.

“We’re brothers,” St. Clair said. “We’re so close. The relationship this team has is sensational, and I think that’s why we’re sitting here today.”

The goal came on Maryland’s first penalty kick during regulation play all season.

“I could not be more proud of this group,” coach Sasho Cirovski said. “We talked about this being a big moment for our program. They were pushed and hardened after a challenging schedule. And now, they’re jewels. I am incredibly happy for them.”

Maryland shared the 1968 title with Michigan State and also won championships in 2005 and 2008. Cirovski won his third title at the school.

“We needed to sort of get back to the Maryland way of doing thing,” Cirovski said. “One of those things was like Dayne (St. Clair) mentioned, is to be prideful on the defensive side of the ball and make it hard to play against Maryland.”

Maryland finished the season 13-6-4, and Akron was 15-7-2.

“We knew that they would be aggressive, try to press us and disrupt our rhythm,” Akron coach Jared Embick said. “We never really got in a comfort zone and I credit Maryland’s work rate and pressure.”

Sejdic was selected the College Cup’s Most Outstanding Player.

“Within us, we’ve been through it all,” Sejdic said. “It means so much to me to wear the captain’s armband for this university. And it’s an honor for us to be able to lift up this trophy.”

Must-See Goal: Catarina Marcario

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One of the top women’s soccer players in the nation added to her stellar list of accomplishments with a highlight-reel goal.

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In a match against Washington State, Stanford’s Catarina Marcario controlled a clearance at the top of the box with her thigh, took another touch in the air with her right foot before rifling home a volley into the top corner for a spectacular goal. Stanford could only hold on for a draw on the road after two overtime periods, one of only two draws all year as the Cardinal remain unbeaten.

Marcario, a member of the U.S. Women’s Under-23 National Team, led the Cardinal as a freshman to the 2017 Pac-12 and NCAA title, scoring 17 goals to go with 16 assists. She finished with first-team All-America honors and was named Pac-12 Player of the Year. She’s on the MAC Hermann Trophy watch list in 2018.

Stanford knocks off Indiana to capture third consecutive NCAA title

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Prior to this weekend, only one team in NCAA men’s soccer history had won three or more titles in consecutive years. Now, you can add Stanford to that list.

The Cardinal knocked off the Indiana Hoosiers, 1-0, on Sunday afternoon at Talen Energy Stadium behind Sam Werner’s extra-time winner.

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Werner, who also scored the second goal for the Cardinal in Friday night’s 2-0 victory against the Akron Zips, provided the finish in the second overtime after powering a shot over Hoosiers goalkeeper Trey Muse.

On the cold day in Chester, PA, both sides struggled to come up with chances on goal, with the Hoosiers managing just one shot on target in the match.

Prior to 2015, Stanford had never won a College Cup in school history, however, the Cardinal are now tied for sixth in NCAA history with their third championship.

The University of St. Louis has captured the most titles in men’s soccer, with 10, while Indiana’s eight championships rank second.

UConn player sues over punishment for middle-finger incident

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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) A former UConn soccer player who lost her scholarship after giving the middle finger to a television camera plans to sue the school, alleging her punishment was excessive.

Noriana Radwan, who now plays for Hofstra, has scheduled a news conference for Monday in New York.

She made the obscene gesture to an ESPNU camera while celebrating with teammates after the Huskies beat the University of South Florida 3-2 on penalty kicks in the 2014 American Athletic Conference championship game.

Coach Len Tsantiris initially suspended Radwan from the 2014 NCAA Tournament and issued a statement apologizing to the conference, USF and those who watched the game on television.

In her federal lawsuit, a draft of which was given to The Associated Press, Radwan alleges that after the publicity died down, she was stripped of her scholarship midway through the school year without due process for what the coach described as “serious misconduct.”

“She was never given the opportunity to defend herself, or to appeal the decision in any way,” said Greg Tarone, her attorney. “They took away her dream and they took away her voice.”

Tarone also said that while Radwan’s offense was regrettable, it hardly rises to the level of “serious misconduct,” and the punishment was much harsher than what male athletes at the school have received for more serious offenses.

He noted the a UConn football player, offensive lineman Brian Cespedes, was not even suspended from his team after being arrested Saturday on misdemeanor assault charges stemming from a September incident that was not public at the time.

“It’s clear from the information I’ve gathered that there have been many other incidents of much more serious misconduct and nobody lost a scholarship over it,” Tarone said.

UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz said the school has not seen the lawsuit and cannot comment on it because of federal privacy laws.

Radwan, a midfielder, played in nine games for the Huskies as a freshman. She did not have a goal.

She transferred to Hofstra, where she is on a partial athletic scholarship. She started 17 games this past season, scoring six goals and adding an assist.

She is seeking monetary damages.

“What she really wants is to make sure something like this does not happen to any other young woman,” Tarone said.

Stanford tops Wake Forest in PKs, wins 2nd straight NCAA title

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HOUSTON (AP) Andrew Epstein made two diving saves and Corey Baird and Sam Werner scored Stanford’s final shootout goals to give the Cardinal their second straight College Cup title Sunday, 5-4 over Wake Forest after the teams played 110 scoreless minutes.

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Stanford didn’t allow a goal in the tournament, becoming the first team since Wisconsin in 1995 to accomplish the feat and win the national championship.

The game was the sixth national championship to go to penalty kicks, and the first since Virginia beat UCLA in 2014. Stanford beat Wake Forest 2-1 in overtime in the quarterfinals last season on the way to its first national championship.

Cardinal coach Jeremy Gunn improved to 4-1-1 in the College Cup. Prior to leading Stanford to the national championship last season, Gunn guided Charlotte to the 2011 College Cup as well.

Wake Forest came out firing in the second half, recording three shots and a corner in seven minutes.

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Stanford answered with its attack and Wake Forest goalkeeper Andreu Cases Mundet was solid. In the 71st minute, Mundet saved a goal laying on his back and somehow keeping the ball from crossing the line fully. Seven minutes later, he dove left to deflect away Adrian Alabi’s header.

The opening 30 minutes belonged to Stanford, with the Cardinal outshooting Wake Forest 4-1 and holding a 3-1 edge in corner opportunities. Two of the corner attempts came in the opening five minutes.

Wake Forest ended up outshooting Stanford 10-9, and leading 5-4 in corners.

Demon Deacons made a push toward the end of the first half, firing a pair of shots toward goal.