CHESTER, Pa. (AP) — Confetti rained down, the Notre Dame fight song "Victory March" blasted over the loudspeakers and everyone on the Fighting Irish's soccer team ran to one side of the field to celebrate.
For the first time in the school's proud athletic history, Notre Dame was on top of the men's college soccer world.
Led by goals from Andrew O'Malley and Leon Brown, and another big game from College Cup co-Most Outstanding Player Harrison Shipp, Notre Dame won its first men's soccer title with a 2-1 victory over Maryland on Sunday at PPL Park. The Fighting Irish finished the season 17-1-6.
"We're all smiling big smiles," said 68-year-old coach Bobby Clark, who won his first title in 27 years coaching at Dartmouth, Stanford and Notre Dame.
Patrick Mullins, the nation's leading scorer, scored for Maryland (17-4-5). The Terrapins were trying to win their fourth national championship and third under coach Sasho Cirovski.
"They are worthy winners and I'm genuinely happy for Bobby for all he's done for college soccer," Cirovski said. "I hope he enjoys this one. At Maryland, we shoot for the stars every year. We aim high. And when you aim that high and when you don't reach it, you still end up at the moon, which is higher than most people."
Shipp, a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy as the nation's best player, set up O'Malley's winning goal with a perfectly placed free kick in the 60th minute. O'Malley leaped for Shipp's kick and directed a header past goalkeeper Zack Steffen's outstretched arms.
Coming into Sunday's title game, O'Malley, a senior defender, had scored just twice in his collegiate career — and, according to Clark, he missed a couple of chances throughout the season.
But he didn't miss when it counted.
"The goal itself was really put on a silver platter for me," O'Malley said. "It would have been tough for me to screw it up, I suppose. Harry just played a beautiful ball and all I needed to do was redirect it to the back post."
O'Malley, from nearby West Chester, said it was extra special to score the championship-deciding goal in front of many of his family and friends, who made the short commute to watch him play at PPL Park.
"I kind of jokingly said after the game — but I'm a little bit serious —that people think I'm good now," O'Malley said. "So, hopefully, I'll just ride that."
Brown tied it at 1 in the 40th minute with a tough-angle shot. He entered the game as a reserve when Vince Cicciarelli was forced to leave when he broke his collarbone in the 10th minute.
Luke Mishu and Nick Besler were both credited with assists after Besler flicked on a long Mishu throw-in right to the foot of Brown, who slid a tough-angle shot past Steffen.