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.”
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.”
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