It wasn’t pretty, but ultimately the second-ranked Maryland Terrapins (11-0-1, 3-0-0) were able to pull off a 2-1 overtime win Tuesday over Rutgers (4-5-1). John Stertzer (8), celebrating his 21st birthday, headed in the game’s first goal in the 20th minute off a corner kick. However, the Scarlet Knights responded with a goal by Sam Archer to knot things up just two minutes later. The game would remained tied through regulation. However, seven minutes into overtime, Stertzer (9-97th) put the icing on the cake by scoring his second goal of the game to give Maryland their fourth win in 10 days. As a whole, the Terps have surrendered just three goals in their last six matches.
Maryland will resume one of college soccer’s most historic rivalries tonight with the No. 23 Virginia Cavaliers (6-4-0, 2-1-0) in Charlottesville, VA. The Cavaliers are coming off a 2-0 home win over Clemson in which they held the Tigers without a shot until the 53rd minute and allowed only two shots throughout the entire match. Virginia was able to tally 15 shots in the game.
The Terrapins are the fourth different ranked opponent that Virginia will battle this season. The Wahoos are 1-2 against ranked teams, beating then-No. 25 Duke before losing to both then-No. 19 Charlotte and then-No. 4 North Carolina. The Cavaliers have been outshot 50-34 and outscored 5-2 in these games. Here are some more notes to tonight’s game:
- Virginia has outscored its opponents 20-14 this year. They’ve netted 10 first half goals and 10 second half goals while yielding five goals in the first half and eight in the second.
- Will Bates leads the Cavaliers in goals (9) and points (21). His three assists rank second on the team behind Brian Span’s four assists. Bates has scored in nine of Virginia’s 10 matches.
- Span is second on the team with three goals and 10 points. He is the only Wahoo besides Bates with more than four points on the season.
- Nine different Cavaliers have notched goals this season.
- Maryland owns a 37-28-8 edge in the programs’ all-time series, which dates to 1941. The teams have met five times in the last two seasons, with Maryland winning both matchups by 2-0 counts last season and Virginia taking all three contests in 2009, including two in the postseason. The Terps are 5-4-1 in their last 10 matches against the Cavaliers.
- Maryland is 3-0 against top-25 ranked opponents this season. They have outshot ranked teams by a 46-20 margin. The Terps have outscored ranked opponents 14-2 this season. Against unranked teams, their margin is just 17-6.
- Casey Townsend leads the Terps in goals (11) and points (22). Stertzer is second with nine goals and 21 points to go along with three assists.
- Townsend ranks second in the ACC with 11 goals, one behind Duke’s Andrew Wenger. Will Bates is tied for third with nine.
- Townsend is the reigning ACC, NSCAA and Soccer America National Player of the Week. He is currently seventh all-time in career goals at Maryland with 37.
- John Stertzer is coming off his second multi-goal performance of the season.
- Patrick Mullins is third on the Terps with 12 points on five goals and two assists. Sunny Jane leads Maryland with five assists.
- Maryland is ranked first nationally with 31 goals; Virginia is tied for 18th with 20 scores. The Terps have also given up an ACC-low eight goals this season.
- Maryland played more games (12) than any other team ranked in the top 25 of the NSCAACoaches Poll.
“I thought that this could be a trap game after the three teams we played so far, but our guys came and responded quite well in the first half,” said head coach Sasho Cirovski.
Coming into Sunday night, Maryland had won convincingly over three brand-name schools – St. John’s, No. 17 West Virginia and Stanford. The Terps outscored their opponents 10-1. However, after goals from forwards Patrick Mullins (3- 20th minute) and Casey Townsend (4- 31st), Maryland was not able to simply use firepower to blowout another opponent. With freshman Kyle Roach starting for injured senior Alex Lee on the backline, the Terrapins (4-0-0) had to fend Radford off after Anthony Payne cut the lead in half in the 61st minute for the Highlanders (1-2-0).
“We haven’t had to manage a game at the end,” Cirovski said. “Today, I thought, we did that pretty well.”
The Terps’ ability to take control of the game late in the second half halted any thoughts of a Radford comeback and gave Cirovski his 300th career win, which places him 10th all-time among active Division I men’s soccer head coaches.
“I didn’t even know it until about three or four days ago when it was on the website,” Cirovski said when asked about the pressure of getting his 300th victory. “I would like to thank all of my former players and assistants who helped contribute and build this program. This is a collaborative team effort with all the great players, and the blood, sweat and tears and the coaches, what they’ve put in, it’s more of achievement for the program than it is for an individual coach.”
With Cirovski’s milestone out of the way, the Terps turn their attention towards ACC play. They host the eighth-ranked Boston College Eagles (4-0-0) tonight at rain-soaked Ludwig Field. The match will be Maryland’s first in conference play as they seek to defend their ACC Championship from last season.
“I really like this group,” said Cirovski. “They’re a fun group to coach. They’re very mature, very committed for such a young group and I think I’ve seen a lot of good things.”
Some notes for tonight’s game:
- Boston College is tied with Maryland and Virginia for the ACC lead in scoring. Each team is averaging three goals per game.
- Amit Aburmad, Kyle Bekker and Charlie Rugg have accounted for 10 of the Eagles’ 12 goals this year.
- The two teams tied 1-1 last season in a game played in Chestnut Hill. Maryland is 5-2-1 all-time against Boston College.
- Casey Townsend, John Stertzer and Patrick Mullins have combined for 10 of the Terps’ 12 goals this season.
- Maryland has outscored its opponents 12-2 on the year.
There are few teams at any level of collegiate soccer that can lose seven starters, four of whom were named to an All-ACC team last season, and still be ranked No. 4 in the country the very next season. Such is the case though with the Maryland Terrapins, who need to replace players who combined to score 32 of the team’s 61 goals last season (52.5 percent).
The Terps return a mostly young and talented group of players highlighted by All-ACC senior forward Casey Townsend, 2010 ACC Freshman of the Year forward Patrick Mullins and defensive stalwarts Taylor Kemp and Alex Lee. Head coach Sasho Cirovski, entering his 19th season at Maryland, said his program, which has been to five College Cups and won two National Championships in the last nine years, has not lowered the bar with what they expect to achieve this season, even with a much different-looking squad this year compared to the team that bowed out to Michigan in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Tournament last season.
“As usual, we have high expectations for our team this year in spite of losing a lot of talented players, three underclassmen and seven starters, our goal is still the same,” said Cirovski. “We want to win an ACC Championship and we want to win a National Championship.”
The Terps have set the bar for success in the program high, but they certainly have an impressive list of players who played smaller roles last year and will have the opportunity to see increased playing time and responsibility on the pitch in 2011.
“They were big-time players,” Townsend said of the departed Terps. “But I think people are going to be surprised at how good we are because we have a lot of players that haven’t played that are very good players that people just don’t know about.”
Some of those players figure to be midfielders John Stertzer (two goals and two assists in 21 games last season), Kaoru Forbess (three goals in 21 games last season), Helge Leikvang (one goal and one assist in 18 games last season), forward Matt Oduaran (one goal and one assist in 15 games last season) and defender London Woodberry (one goal and three assists in 14 games last season). Cirovski said that two players who redshirted due to injury last season, midfielder Widner Saint Cyr and forward Jordan Cyrus, will also play more prominent roles this season now that they are healthy.
They will be joined by a skilled freshman class that features goalkeeper Jordan Tatum, American U-18 National Team goalie Keith Cardona, Canadian U-17 National Team defender Parker Seymour and three College Soccer News top-35 recruits in defender Kyle Roach (No. 34) and midfielders Dan Metzger (No. 29) and Alex Shinsky (No. 2, No. 1 recruit according toTopDrawerSoccer.com). The incoming freshman class and crop of returning players give Cirovski the most flexibility to mix-and-match in the midfield.
“I think that’s the position we have the greatest depth in,” said Cirovski of the midfield. “I’d say we have seven or eight players capable of starting for the four positions. I think we’re going to have, probably, a lot more rotation in the midfield this year than in years past.”
However, it may be a player who did not play a single minute last year who has the greatest impact on Maryland’s season. Will Swaim started 20 games in goal for Maryland from 2007 through 2009 before redshirting in 2010. Cirovski said he is the frontrunner to start at goalie for the team’s first regular season match on August 26 against St. John’s, a rematch of the double-overtime College Cup semifinal thriller in 2008 (a 1-0 Terps victory). His decision to return to College Park for a fifth year provides Maryland with an experienced keeper who knows the rigors of playing a full season in college soccer’s toughest conference.
“It was a great opportunity to play,” Swaim said. “After partnering with Zac (MacMath) for the past couple years I felt like I learned a lot. It’s also a great opportunity to go to school.”
Cirovski said that while Swaim will split time this season in net with Cardona and Tatum, his biggest concern right now at the position was getting Swaim back up to full speed after redshirting last season.
“I think his (Swaim’s) veteran leadership and knowledge of how we want to play is very important,” Cirovski said. “And Will’s good. Let’s not forget, he was our starting keeper in 2007. He’s a very good goalkeeper. We just want to get his game speed up as quickly as possible.”
Despite the unusually large number of new players who will be stepping into unfamiliar roles that come with a lot of responsibility this season, Cirovski said the team’s leadership, coming from many different sources, and ability to come together as one so far has been very impressive to see.
“All of these kids were here everyday together this summer,” said Cirovski. “I think there is a collective respect among the players that they’ve all given each other permission to lead. It’s a kind of a nice chemistry we have together within the group now.”
That respect and combined leadership should be crucial for a team that could struggle at times as they wait to gel and get in sync with one another. A number of new players in the lineup could lead to some growing pains at times as the players get used to each other’s tendencies on the pitch. However, once they find that chemistry that can only grow with time, the Terps should continue to improve as the season goes along.
“We’ll be a team that gets better with time,” Townsend said. “It’s going to take a couple games to get used to playing with each other because we’re going to have a lot of new players on the field, and I think with time, we’ll get better and better and I hope we come together at the right time.”
There will be seven new starters in the lineup, but Maryland has a number of talented players who will get the first opportunity of their collegiate careers to make major contributions to the club this year. Even with a much-different looking team than last year, the goal is still the same. The Terps think they are just as good as any other team in the country.
“Last year we got to the quarterfinals and it felt like a disappointment,” Cirovski said. “Unfortunately, that’s the standard that we set for ourselves. Now, we had a great year last year. We won the ACC Championship and we played extremely well in the game that we lost but yet, I think the fans, myself, the players have a pretty empty feeling. We’re not afraid of the challenge we set for ourselves, or the bar we set for ourselves. I don’t think any of these kids would be happy with anything less than a trip to Alabama this year or coming back with an ACC title.”