Almost exactly a year and a half ago – June 7, 2011 – sophomores Mikias Eticha (University of Maryland; Falls Church, Va.; Arlington Soccer Association) and Tyler Rudy (Georgetown University; Olney, Md.; Olney Boys and Girls Club) impressed as Academy players in a D.C. United Reserve match, a 2-2 draw against the New England Revolution. Tomorrow (Friday, December 7; 5:00 p.m. ET), they are set to square off on opposite sides of the pitch, Eticha with the storied Terrapins program and Rudy with an emerging Hoyas side. Separated by less than 12 miles in the Washington, D.C., area, the teams traveled almost 800 miles to Hoover, Ala., to duke it out for one of the College Cup championship slots.
While Maryland is making its 12th semifinal appearance in its history – and could return to the championship match after a 2008 win – the final four is new territory for Georgetown. After going 10-4-4 last season and missing out on the NCAA tournament, the Hoyas have put together a 19-win campaign – best in program history – to advance to its first-ever semifinal game.
“It’s been our goal since preseason – make it to Red Bull [Arena], which obviously turned out to be PPL Park for the Big East semifinals/final,” said Rudy. “And then out there, we said, ‘Let’s not stop, let’s go all the way to the Final Four...’ I’ve never been a part of a team like this.”
Like Rudy – who appeared in 19 games (16 starts) his freshman year – Eticha made an immediate impact on his collegiate squad. A late addition to the team, Eticha came into 15 matches in 2011, tallying his first goal two weeks after his inaugural Division I game. Having played a full year together on the Academy team, Eticha and Rudy know what each other are capable of bringing to the fore.
“[Mikias] is what we like to call ‘slippery,’ so it’s tough to get the ball off of him,” said Rudy. “He’s really deceptive when he’s on the ball and he’s extremely dangerous when he’s going forward.”
Eticha was equally superlative, lauding Rudy for his defensive intelligence.
“We both started at center mid – I played attacking mid and he played defensive mid,” said Eticha. “He’s really good at defending – I didn’t have to do anything at all defensively… He took care of everything in the back.”
Halfway through their college careers, Eticha and Rudy are crucial components of their respective teams, crediting their time with D.C. United’s Academy to successful adjustments to NCAA play.
Eticha said: “If I went straight from high school to college [without the Academy experience], it would have been a lot harder than it was.”
“The Reserve League did wonders for me and Miki,” added Rudy. “When we went into those games, we got used to the speed of play that we were going to see in college, and we got used to the kind of athletes that we were going to go up against.”