The Washington Times - September 26, 2009, 09:38AM

He might not say it out loud, but Maryland soccer coach Sasho Cirovski probably would have taken a 5-1-1 start if it was offered to him at the start of the month.

Sure, he wants to chase down a third national title in five years. He certainly doesn’t want to have to deal with a couple of years of falling shy of the final four like after his last championship.


But in the preseason, Cirovski tempered his usual level of excitability with an understanding things might be a little bumpy, that September could have its share of downs before his latest team emerged as a serious threat.

The first seven games would be telling. It was a stretch bookended by visits from national title contenders UCLA and North Carolina. There was a solitary road game in the middle. And California and Boston College were to make the trip to Ludwig Field.

With an overhauled back line, escaping with just two losses looked like a good accomplishment.

Instead, Cirovski’s team is off to yet another fine seven-game start, and has beaten two teams ranked in this week’s top 10 (North Carolina and California):

Year Start Final Postseason
2003 7-0 20-3-1 Semifinals
1999 6-1 14-6 Round/32
2002 6-1 20-5 Semifinals
2006 6-1 16-5-1 Round/16
2008 6-1 23-3 NCAA Champs  
5-1-1 13-6-2 Round/16
1997 5-1-1 16-6-1 Round/16
2004 5-1-1 17-6-2   
2009 5-1-1    
—- —-

Can Maryland match those illustrious predecessors who started the season as strong? Considering four of the five teams to do it this decade reached the final four, that’s an imposing task.

But the Terps’ resume is already strong. And that, as Cirovski knows all too well, is just a start.

—- Patrick Stevens