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Top Strikers Get Together On Pitch As No. 3 Terps Clash With No. 24 Duke

As the Maryland men’s soccer team headed into the locker room for halftime in their match against Division II Adelphi Tuesday, the Terrapins found themselves in unfamiliar territory.

The Diamondback

Not only were they tied on the scoreboard at zero, but the Terps were outshot in a half, 4-3 by the Panthers, for just the second time all season. However, a more focused Maryland group emerged in the second half. The Terrapins outshot Adelphi 11-0 and used two goals from reserve forward Jake Pace in the 73rd and 74th minutes, respectively, to defeat the Panthers 2-0 in their final non-conference regular season game of the season. The goals were the first of Pace’s career. In helping to pitch Maryland’s seventh shutout of the season, freshman goalkeeper Keith Cardona earned his first career victory.

After a 2-1 loss in Charlottesville last week, Maryland (12-1-1, 3-1-0 ACC) resumes ACC play tonight against the Duke Blue Devils (7-4-1, 3-1-1). Duke has not been defeated in seven straight games, the Blue Devils’ best run since 2006. During that stretch, the Blue Devils are 6-0-1 and have outscored opponents 24-9, the most goals Duke has scored in a seven-game stretch since 2004. The Blue Devils are tied with North Carolina on top of the ACC standings to move into the College Soccer News poll for the first time since August. Duke is ranked No. 24 in the nation.

Tonight’s battle will feature two of the top strikers in the country. Duke’s Andrew Wenger leads the nation in both goals (15) and points (37). During the Blue Devils’ seven-game win streak, Wenger has scored 12 goals to go along with seven assists for 31 points. After a four-goal, one-assist performance in a pair of victories last week, he is was selected as the Disney Soccer/NSCAA, ACC and College Soccer News Men’s National Player of the Week. Wenger was also voted to the Soccer America Team of the Week for the second time this season.

The Diamondback

On the other side though, Maryland’s Casey Townsend is not far behind. Townsend has scored 12 goals for a total of 24 points this season, both of which rank second in the conference behind Wenger. However, while Wenger has accounted for 22 of Duke’s 29 goals, the Terps scoring attack is much more balanced. Townsend has accounted for 12 of Maryland’s 34 goals. John Stertzer is second on the Terrapins with nine goals and 21 points while Patrick Mullins has five goals for 12 points this year.

Here are some more notes for tonight’s game:

  • This is the 70th matchup between Maryland and Duke. The Terrapins have a 44-22-3 lead in the all-time series, which dates back to 1949. However, both teams have five wins in the last 10 meetings with each other.
  • Duke is 1-2-0 against Maryland under head coach John Kerr. The Blue Devils defeated the Terps in 2009 and have not lost consecutive regular season games to Maryland since 2006.
  • With a 3-1-1 record in the ACC, Duke is off to its best start in conference play since 2006, which is the last time the Blue Devils captured the ACC title.
  • This game features the top two offenses in the ACC. Maryland is averaging 2.43 goals per game to Duke’s 2.42. The Blue Devils’ 29 assists leads the ACC while the Terps are second with 28. Chris Tweed-Kent is tied for first on Duke with seven assists. Andrew Morales leads all ACC freshmen and is tied for 10th nationally with four assists. Sunny Jane leads Maryland with five assists.
  • Duke has scored 15 goals against ACC opponents this year, the sixth-most by the Blue Devils in conference play all-time. The 2000 Blue Devils scored 19 goals against ACC foes, the most all-time by a Duke team.
  • All four of Duke’s losses this season have come by one goal. The Blue Devils outshot each of their opponents in those games and have outshot all but three of its opponents this season.
  • Duke is 5-1-1 in games in which they have scored first. The Blue Devils are 5-0 when leading at the half and 0-2 when trailing and 2-2-1 when tied.
  • Duke has outscored their opponents by a 29-17 margin. They have 11 goals in the first half and 18 in the second half. The Blue Devils have scored at least one goal in the first half in six of their seven victories.
  • Nick Palodichuk currently is tied for first among freshmen across the country with six goals and 15 points overall, both of which are second on the Blue Devils.
  • Duke and Maryland have played two common opponent so far this season. Both teams earned wins over NC State and suffered losses to Virginia.
  • The Terrapins are the fifth ranked team the Blue Devils have played this season. Duke is 0-3-1 and has been outscored 7-4 by ranked opponents.
  • Maryland is 3-0 against 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 18-7.
  • Maryland has outshot its opponents 244-122 this season, as well as outscoring them 34-10. The Terps have scored 15 goals in the first half and 17 in the second half, as well as two overtime goals.
  • The Terrapins defense is surrendering just 0.71 goals per game, second in the ACC. They have allowed only 39 shots on goal all season. Maryland’s seven shutouts leads the ACC.
  • The Terps are  9-0-0 at home this and have allowed just five goals at Ludwig Field. Maryland is averaging 3,808 fans per game.

You can listen to the action live on WMUC Sports at 6:45. Steve Goldstein will be on the call along with Luke Jackson.


No. 3 Maryland Soccer Welcomes In Top-15 Opponent Charlotte

In their most lopsided game in all of 2010, the Maryland Terrapins dismantled the Virginia Tech Hokies on their home turf by a score of 7-0. However, after Virginia Tech, which had been picked in the preseason to finish in last in the ACC this season, beat then-No. 1 North Carolina September 10 in a 1-0 double overtime thriller, alarms went off that the No. 1 Maryland Terrapins could not take the Hokies lightly this time around.

Sure enough, the Terps did not come into Blacksburg too overconfident. After a frustrating 0-0 tie Tuesday at Seton Hall, Maryland got the ball to their top scorers early and often to create opportunities. While Virginia Tech goalie Kyle Renfro ultimately made eight saves, the Terrapins were able to find the back of the net twice to secure victory. John Stertzer headed in his sixth goal of the year in the 29th minute off a Kaoru Forbess free kick. In the 41st minute, Forbess sent a cross into the box that Casey Townsend netted for his ninth goal of the season to give the Terps a commanding 2-0 lead. Forbess now has three assists in the last four games after tallying just one in the first five matches of the year. Goalkeeper Will Swaim and Maryland’s backline were able to keep the Hokies off the scoreboard for their fifth shutout of the season as Maryland improved to 8-0-1 overall and 3-0-0 in the ACC. It is the first 3-0-0 start for the Terps in the ACC since 2003.

After spending last week away from Ludwig Field, the Terps (8-0-1, 3-0-0), now ranked third in the nation, host No. 12 Charlotte (7-1-0) in the first of two top-15 opponents the Terps will welcome to College Park this week. The 49ers are 2-0-0 against ACC opponents this season, having beaten then No. 10 Virginia 2-1 in overtime and Clemson 3-1. Here are some more notes for tonight’s game:

  • The 49ers enter tonight’s game on a five-game winning streak. They have outscored their opponents 16-5 this season and have shutout their opponents four times in eight games.
  • Charlotte boasts a very balanced scoring attack. Reigning Atlantic-10 Player of the Week Evan James leads the 49ers with four goals on the year. Jennings Rex is second on the team with three goals. Donnie Smith, Tyler Gibson and Isaac Caughrans have tallied two goals apiece.
  • This game will mark the second meeting between the two schools. Maryland defeated Charlotte in 2008 in overtime by a score of 2-1.
  • Over the last three seasons, the 49ers are 5-0-1 against the ACC, including a 2-0-0 record this year.
  • Maryland is outscoring its opponents 25-6 this year. The Terps have allowed just one goal in the last three games.
  • Of the six goals Maryland has allowed this season, five of them have come in the second half.
  • Maryland is surrendering just 0.67 goals per contest. They have allowed only 21 shots on goal all season.
  • The Terrapins are led on offense by Casey Townsend, who leads the team in both goals with nine and points with 18. Townsend had nine goals in all of 2010.
  • John Stertzer is second on the Terps in scoring with six goals and three assists for 15 points. Patrick Mullins is third with five goals and one assist for 11 points. Sunny Jane leads Maryland in assists with five.
  • The Terps have outshot their opponents 165-69 this year.
  • This is Maryland’s sixth home game of the season. The Terps are averaging 4,643 fans per game at Ludwig Field in 2011.
You can listen to the action live on WMUC Sports at 7:20. Luke Jackson and Pauly Kwestel will be on the call.

No. 1 Maryland Men’s Soccer vs. NC State Highlight Package

No. 1 Maryland men’s soccer beat NC State 3-1 Friday night. Click below to listen to my highlight package from the game:


Top-ranked Maryland Soccer Ekes Out Win At UMBC, Host NC State

Everything had fallen into place for Maryland men’s soccer coming into their match Tuesday at in-state opponent UMBC. The Terrapins had throttled Stanford, Radford and No.8 Boston College by a combined score of 10-1 the previous week. During that three-game stretch, the Terps allowed only one shot on goal while they had four different players score at least once. And with then-No. 1 North Carolina losing in double overtime to Virginia Tech, Maryland was voted as the top-ranked team in the country. All of the Terps’ good fortune almost came to a screeching half against an upset-minded and experienced UMBC squad.

The Retrievers were able to hold the Terrapins off the scoreboard in the first half, the first time since Maryland’s victory over West Virginia in the second game of the season that the Terps did not net a first-half goal. However, Maryland came out firing after halftime. Casey Townsend (46th minute) scored his sixth goal of the year just 23 seconds into the second half on a pass from Sunny Jane to give the Terps a 1-0 lead. However, like they would for the rest of the night, UMBC would have an answer. Just six minutes later, Pete Caringi notted things up at one. Townsend (7- 57th) responded with a goal off a corner kick to give Maryland the lead again.

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In the 81st minute, Townsend (8) scored his third goal of the game for his second-career hat trick. With only about 10 minutes to play, Maryland owned what looked to be an insurmountable lead with the way the Terps defense had been playing all season long. However, the Retrievers, who had scored only two goals all season long prior to this match, were able to answer once more and stormed back as defender Sean Rothe scored in both the 83rd and 84th minutes to tie things up. The stunned Terrapins would take things to overtime.

At the very end of the first overtime, Maryland was offered a perfect chance to end the game and go back to College Park with a victory. John Stertzer, who had previously knocked home a penalty kick against West Virginia two weeks ago, teed up the ball for a PK after forward Patrick Mullins was fouled inside the box. Stertzer missed the kick, but was able to make up for it later. In the 104th minute, Stertzer (4) headed in the game-winner off a cross from Taylor Kemp to give Maryland a hard-fought 4-3 victory in a game in which not much went their way. The Terps improved to 6-0-0 for the first time since 2003.

Maryland will resume ACC play tonight as they host North Carolina State (2-1-2, 0-0-0) at Ludwig Field. It will be the Wolfpack’s first ACC match of the season. NC State went 1-5-2 in conference play last season. Here are some more notes from today’s game:

  • The Wolfpack have already played two top-ten teams this season. They beat then No.  9 SMU 1-0 in overtime in the Duke/Nike Classic before losing to No. 8 UC Santa Barbara 1-0.
  • NC State has outscored its opponents 4-2 this year. Ollie Kelly leads the team with two goals on the season.
  • The Wolfpack boast a strong defense. Goalkeeper Fabian Otte has posted two shutouts this year and has made 14 saves to go along with his 0.36 goals against average.
  • Maryland beat NC State 3-1 last year in College Park. The Terrapins are 44-20-6 all-time against the Wolfpack.
  • After a two-goal effort against No. 8 Boston College, sophomore forward Patrick Mullins was named as the ACC Co-Player of the Week. Mullins is second on the Terps with five goals and is tied with Stertzer with 11 points, which is tied for second-most on the club.
  • Casey Townsend posted his second-career hat trick Tuesday against UMBC, giving him a team-leading eight goals and 16 points on the year. The senior forward had nine goals all of last season.
  • Maryland has outscored its opponents 20-5 this season. Stertzer is third on the team with four goals.
  • Redshirt senior Will Swaim has started every game in goal for the Terps. He has posted three shutouts and a 0.81 goals against average.
  • Maryland has averaged 4,732 fans per game at Ludwig Field in four matches this season.
You can listen to the action live on WMUC Sports at 7:20. Luke Jackson and Steve Goldstein will be on the call.

Cirovski Reaches 300 Wins, No. 2 Terps Host No.8 Boston College Tonight

The No. 2 Maryland Terrapins men’s soccer team was not at their best Sunday night. Facing an upset-minded Radford Highlanders team, a victory did not come easy, but the Terps earned one nonetheless.

“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.
You can listen to the action on WMUC Sports at 7:20. Pauly Kwestel and Luke Jackson will be on the call.

Cirovski Goes For Win No. 300 As No. 4 Terps Take On Radford

After scoring six second-half goals in their first two matches of the season, the No. 4 Maryland Terrapins men’s soccer team finally got off to a fast start Friday against Stanford. In front of 7,178 fans, the second-largest crowd ever at Ludwig Field, the Terps scored four first-half goals, the team’s most since scoring four, two of them from Casey Townsend, against Duquesne on September 15, 2009 in what would be a 7-0 victory.

The Terps proved their speed to be a mismatch against the Cardinal (0-2-0) from the get-go. Patrick Mullins (2) found the back of the net just 22 second into the match. Casey Townsend (2) followed up in the 10th minute with a left-footed strike from 12 yards out. In the 28th minute, Helge Leikvang (1) curved a free kick over Stanford’s wall and past Cardinal goalie Jason Dodson. Just like in Maryland’s four-goal first-half against Duquesne two years ago, Townsend (3-30th) scored his second goal of the half and the Terps built what would be an insurmountable 4-0 lead. Maryland goalkeeper Will Swaim did not need to make a save and picked up his second shutout of the season as the Terps improved to 3-0-0.

Maryland will host Radford (1-1-0) tonight at 7 p.m. as head coach Sasho Cirovski seeks his 300th career win. The Highlanders are coming off a 2-0 loss to Georgetown on Friday. College Park is the third stop on their six-game road-trip to begin the season.

Some notes for tonight’s game:

  • Maryland has outscored opponents 10-1 this season. John Stertzer and Casey Townsend lead the Terps with three goals apiece.
  • Radford sophomore Luis Grande was named the Big South Attacking Player of the Week after his golden-goal 49 seconds into overtime to give the Highlands a season-opening victory over Appalachian State. Chel Ho Kim Park assisted the goal.

You can listen to the action on WMUC Sports at 6:50. I will be on the call along with Eric Morrow.


No. 4 Terps Soccer Takes On No. 17 West Virginia

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After a shaky first-half Friday against St. John’s in which they were outshot 7-3, the Maryland offense took off. Patrick Mullins (1) scored the season’s first goal in the 51st minute before John Stertzer (1) followed up just four minutes later to give the Terps a 2-0 lead. In the 76th minute, senior forward Casey Townsend (1) scored his first goal of the year by heading in a corner kick from freshman midfielder Alex Shinsky and Maryland all but ended things, winning 3-0 over the Red Storm. In his first game in goal since 2009, Will Swaim recorded his sixth career shutout.

The Terps will play their first regular season game at Ludwig Field this year as No. 4 Maryland takes on No. 17 West Virginia at 7 p.m tonight. The Mountaineers are coming off a 1-0 victory over No. 11 Virginia and boast a very strong defense. West Virginia did not allow a shot on goal in their win Friday and the Cavaliers only tallied three total shots. Junior goalkeeper Pat Eavenson played in all 90 minutes in goal for his first career shutout. Their backline will be put to the test against a very talented scoring group for the Terps, who ranked as college soccer’s best offense last year and return plenty of offensive firepower this season.

Some more notes for tonight’s game:

  • Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski is 297-123-29 at the helm in College Park. He needs just three wins to reach 300 victories as the Terps’ head coach.
  • Maryland is 7-3-1 on its opening weekend since 2006. The Terps fell to No. 24 Michigan State 4-3 in overtime in their home opener last season before pounding Northeastern, 5-0, two days later.
  • Two players on the watch list for the MAC Hermann Trophy will match up with each other tonight. West Virginia senior defender Raymon Gaddis will clash with Maryland senior forward Casey Townsend as the Mountaineers look to slow down the Terps’ offensive attack.
You can listen to the action on WMUC Sports at 6:45. I will be on the call with Eric Morrow.

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.


Maryland Terrapins Men’s Soccer Preview

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).

Charlie DeBoyace/The Diamondback

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.”

Charlie DeBoyace/The Diamondback

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.”

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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.”

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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.”