- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 25, 2011

Will Swaim’s career probably had not unfolded as he’d imagined it would when he was Maryland’s starting goalkeeper as a freshman.

In the past three years, he’s played in eight games, backing up Zac MacMath almost the entire time. But when Sasho Cirovski broached the subject of Swaim coming back for a fifth season, it wasn’t long before Swaim agreed to return.

After all, he figured, it beat the alternative.

“I was doing a little soul-searching there for a while,” Swaim said. “I had to figure out what I wanted. Then he presented me with this opportunity here, and after thinking about it and seeing how tough it was for my friends to go out into the world and try to make something of themselves, I was like ‘All right. Odds are against me, so I might as well try it.’ “

Armed with both a wry sense of humor and solid skills, Swaim enters his final season as Maryland’s keeper. The Ellicott City, Md., native is expected to make his first start since Sept. 22, 2009, when the No. 4 Terrapins meet St. John’s in their season opener Friday at the Maryland SoccerPlex in Germantown.

His starting stints sandwich the career of MacMath, an anchor during Maryland’s national title run in 2008 who was the No. 5 overall selection in this year’s MLS draft. While Swaim understood why he wasn’t starting, not playing regularly required an adjustment. Fortunately for him, an ability to find amusement in almost any situation helped considerably.

“Without a doubt,” Swaim said. “You have to see the glass half full. If you don’t, I don’t really know what’s the point.”

Swaim and Cirovski began low-key discussions about a possible fifth year a while ago, and those intensified once it was clear MacMath would not return for his final season.

Still, there was a point when Maryland (19-3-1 a year ago with a double-overtime loss in the NCAA quarterfinals) wondered if it would have an experienced option in goal.

“We were pretty concerned,” defender London Woodberry said. “In the wintertime, we wanted to have some keepers around, but we were happy to get him back. We were thankful for that.”

So is Swaim, who has a chance to close out his atypical career with a flourish. Maryland was picked second in the ACC in a preseason coaches’ vote, and Swaim likely will play a xsignificant role if the Terps again survive into December.

“He’s like a lot of guys here,” Cirovski said. “They really understand and embrace their role. They know if they’re patient and do the right things, their time will come.”

ICirovski added freshmen Keith Cardona and Jordan Tatum this season to contend for playing time. Swaim, meanwhile, added the pursuit of a master’s degree from Maryland’s school of public policy to augment his undergraduate double major of communications and history.

So what does Swaim plan to do long-term? He isn’t quite sure. Combined with the economy, the lack of certainty was plenty of enough incentive to remain in school.

And if he can craft a memorable legacy in soccer, it would provide Swaim with another (though far from a last) laugh.

“It’s a pretty big test for me,” Swaim said. “Despite all the joking and all the laughing around, I still have goals set out for myself. Not only soccer-wise, but also in the classroom.”

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