Herrick Gone, But Terps Will Not Lack Offensive Firepower
With a veteran frontline featuring senior Jason Herrick and junior Casey Townsend, the Maryland Terrapins owned college soccer’s most prolific offense last season, scoring a NCAA-best 2.65 goals per game. The two strikers combined to score 20 of the Terps’ 61 goals. Even though fourth-ranked Maryland lost Herrick to the MLS SuperDraft (selected in the third round, 45th overall, by the Chicago Fire), they still return Townsend and 2010 ACC Freshman of the Year Patrick Mullins, who scored five goals and assisted on four others in 21 games last year. Mullins split time between the midfield and attack in 2010, but head coach Sasho Cirovski expects him to be heavily involved in his sophomore season as an attacker and leader for a talented but inexperienced Terps’ roster.
“I think Patrick is going to score a lot of goals,” said Cirovski. “He’s a strong player. His personality has really come out so now he’s become one of the more vocal leaders on the team. And I think I’ve seen really good chemistry with him and Casey and also with (reserve forwards) Matt Oduaran and Jordan (Cyrus). I think Patrick is going to be used primarily as a striker this year.”
After playing as a reserve last year due to nagging early-season injuries, Cirovski said Mullins is fit enough to start at forward this season besides Townsend, who flirted with the SuperDraft in the offseason before deciding to return to College Park for his senior year. Townsend had nine goals and five assists as a junior, finishing third on the Terps in points with 23. Cirovski felt he had a better junior season than the numbers suggest.
“Casey last year could have easily doubled his goal total, he was just that close,” Cirovski said. “He was a lot of times snake-bit. He did almost everything right and the ball would hit the goalpost, just barely miss, etc. I think that’s the part we’ve talked to Casey is. He does so much good work on both sides of the ball, defensively, holds balls off, offensively. But now it’s time he gets the finishing touch, putting the ball in the back of the net. To have a little more of a menacing mentality in his approach.”
As one of the top returning strikers in the nation, Townsend has seen an increased amount of attention nationally this summer. He garnered College Soccer News preseason All-American honors and was one of 42 players on the watch list for the MAC Hermann Trophy, college soccer’s highest individual award. He is also currently 15th in TopDrawerSoccer.com’s listing of the top 100 senior professional soccer prospects. However, Townsend has seemingly ignored all of the recognition, focusing on finishing goals and leading his teammates in wake of another season of National Championship expectations for Maryland.
“He’s the hardest-working guy on the field,” Mullins said. “He runs his butt off the entire time and that’s something that a lot of the younger guys and what I learned from my freshman year last year.”
“He’s in a different level in terms of comfort and maturity,” said Cirovski. “It took a little while in the spring for him to sort of grow into a leadership role because he hasn’t been accustomed to that, but now he’s very comfortable as a leader and he’s very comfortable with his decision to stay here.”
The Maryland Terrapins will be breaking in seven new starters in their first regular season game of the year tonight against St. John’s, including one at the forward position. They had college soccer’s deadliest offense in 2010 and believe sophomore Patrick Mullins will step in next to Casey Townsend this year to produce similar results. There will be a lot of differences between the 2011 Terps and last year’s version. Just don’t expect Maryland to lose any of their dynamic offensive firepower.