The Washington Times - June 4, 2009, 01:33PM

Early June would seem to be an odd time to toss out an entry on Maryland men’s soccer program, especially since its season opener is a good two months away.

Sasho Cirovski, of course, would disagree about the timing. But that’s to be expected from the Terrapins’ energetic coach, who I ran into yesterday while visiting College Park for a few hours.

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That encounter was a reminder of a little bit of data I needed to refurbish from last August. It was then that I wondered just how good a decade Maryland was enjoying, what with it being the 10-year anniversary of Cirovski’s first final four team.

Of course, the Terps went out and won their second national title last fall, pretty much cementing them as probably the second-best program since the gradual decline of the Virginia juggernaut after Bruce Arena’s departure.

So first off, I wanted to revisit the idea of the rolling 10-year assessment, with the following scoring system: One point for an NCAA tournament appearance, with additional points earned for a final four (three), a national final (four) and a national title (six).

That might not be the best scoring system, but I wanted some consistency, so it stays. And since Maryland was replacing a final four with a national title, things figured to look better for the Terps.

Naturally, it did, with the 14-point deficit to Indiana from 1998-2007 reduced to five from 1999-2008 (last year’s ranks in the “Pvs.” column):

SchoolTitlesRUFF
NCAATotalPvs.
1. Indiana31110351
2. Maryland2039302
3. UCLA11110233
4. Wake Forest
102921T6
5. Connecticut
10110194
5. North Carolina
110919NR
5. St. John’s
012919T8
8. Creighton
0111017T6
8. UC Santa Barbara
110717T8
10. Southern Methodist 
002915T8

Of course, there’s also the matter of creating a true decade ranking. That can be done completely until the end of this season.

But as things stand, Maryland has a chance to emerge as the team of the decade if things go well with a substantially retooled team this fall.

After all, the Terps actually slightly edge Indiana between 2000 and 2008.

Maryland checks in with two titles (2005 and 2008) and three more semifinal appearances (2002-04) in eight NCAA trips – good for 29 points.

Indiana also has a pair of championships (2003 and 2004), plus a runner-up (2001) and a semifinal trip (2000) and has nine NCAA trips in as many seasons – a total of 28 points.

The numbers, of course, can be toyed with in all sorts of ways. But no matter what way the data is turned, Cirovski very well might have the country’s best college soccer program in the Aughts.

Patrick Stevens