- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 7, 2002

Scott Buete was not a national high school player of the year. He wasn't widely sought and needed to be convinced that he could play for an elite program

But as it turns out, Buete has become one of Sasho Cirovski's greatest recruiting coups in his 10 years as men's soccer coach at Maryland. Buete also may be the biggest reason the Terrapins (19-4) are the NCAA tournament's No.2 seed and will face seventh-seeded Connecticut (17-5) in today's 1 p.m. quarterfinals at Maryland's Ludwig Field.

"Scott's the heartbeat of this team," said Cirovski, whose squad is a win away from its first final four appearance in four years. "I don't know if there's been a game all year where he hasn't been banged up or has been outworked. I think he outworks every player he goes up against. I think our team feeds off Scotty's hard work and honesty on the field."

That was evident in the Terps' round-of-16 defeat of St. Louis on Sunday. Buete was the most active player on the field, creating order from his defensive midfield position during a sloppy first half and then organizing the Terps' push forward after the break before Domenic Mediate scored the game's only goal four minutes into overtime.

Yet the Bowie native almost opted not to attend Maryland. He was recruited at the same time Cirovski was luring national players of the year Nick Downing and A.J. Herrera to College Park, as well as future Major League Soccer stars Dan Califf and Taylor Twellman.

At the time, Buete wasn't sure he belonged in such company. Cirovski not only had to plead with him to commit to Maryland over smaller programs but had to convince Buete he belonged on a veteran team that had just reached the national semifinals.

Cirovski immediately plugged Buete into the lineup as a freshman, though it took him some time to get used to playing with a star-studded lineup.

"I was definitely a little scared," Buete said. "I don't think I was that comfortable until the middle of that season."

Instead of being overwhelmed, Buete scratched out a spot for himself as a dogged player who handled many of the on-field tasks necessary to keep the offense and defense connected.

It's a role he's filled ever since. Buete took a medical redshirt when a broken foot ended his 2000 season after three games, but he rebounded with a solid season a year ago. This fall Buete has become one of the sport's elite midfielders as the Terps have re-emerged as a national power.

"I think he came in thinking that he wasn't good enough," Herrera said. "As things went on, he just got so much confidence. He wasn't sure what type of soccer player he could be."

Buete never has been a prolific scorer, with just seven goals in his Maryland career. But has a knack for scoring in the clutch.

His first career goal secured the Terps' first victory over Virginia in College Park since 1977. Buete scored in the 89th minute in the first round of last year's NCAA tournament after missing four games with a sprained left knee. He also toppled then-No.6 Clemson earlier this season with a goal in the 86th minute.

In short, he's proved he belongs.

"When he committed here, I said publicly that I was just as excited that Scotty was coming as I was Sumed Ibrahim and A.J. Herrera and Siba Mohammed," Cirovski said. "I really felt Scott was at that level. For all the blue chip and national players of the year that we have had, I take as much pride in recruiting guys like Scotty."

Notes Connecticut defeated the Terps 2-0 in a regular-season game Oct.12, but Maryland leads the all-time series 5-2. Maryland is 10-0 at home this season.

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