“We all want him on the field, but he embraced the role he had,” forward Patrick Mullins said. “Unfortunately, he couldn’t be out there, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t an integral part of the team. That didn’t mean he wasn’t going to be the best leader he could be.”
Still, there was a bit of reality. However valuable Kemp was in the locker room, he wanted to be on the Terps’ back line when it mattered most. Last week, he trained four times and increasingly felt ready to play. He worked with athletic trainers since his setback to build up leg strength. By Friday, Cirovski could tell Kemp was ready.
It would be a stellar evening. Kemp assisted on Maryland’s first goal. He would go a full 90 minutes, offering a thumbs up every 10 minutes to the sideline to assure Cirovski he could continue. And he would be in the middle of a celebration he waited so long to be a part of as the Terps earned a place on college soccer’s biggest stage.
“It’s almost like the stars aligned this past weekend for us in the way we were playing Louisville, the team that sent us home [in 2011],” Kemp said. “For me personally, because I could finally play and the way it just all worked out. … Just for the team to finally break through and get through. We’re not done. We have a lot of work to do. But to get to where we are just felt good.”
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Patrick Stevens has covered Maryland and other Mid-Atlantic college sports for more than a decade. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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