- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Maryland's Nino Marcantonio once was a prized recruit and a prolific forward for the American University men's soccer team.

Less than two years after he left AU, Marcantonio will try to help the Terrapins (17-4) knock AU (13-7-1) out of the NCAA tournament today when the teams meet at Maryland's Ludwig Field in a second-round game.

"This whole week has been about getting prepared, both mentally and emotionally, because it's going to be one of those games where there will be a lot of nerves going around," Marcantonio said. "People are going to expect me to do a lot."

Marcantonio was expected to do plenty for AU. A highly sought recruit as a high school senior, Marcantonio was an instant success when he arrived at the Northwest Washington school in 1999. The Bethesda native was the Colonial Athletic Association's Rookie of the Year, setting AU freshman records for goals (10), assists (11) and points (31). He also earned a spot on the U.S. under-20 team.

However, he struggled as a sophomore, scoring just six goals, and shortly after the Eagles finished a 7-9-2 season, Marcantonio left school. He decided to take a year off and played for an amateur team in Italy, but when he returned home he had to choose where to continue his college career.

"When I came back, I knew my years at AU were over and I needed to move on," Marcantonio said. "Maryland was my only alternative, really. It was really between American and Maryland in the first place and when I left, I knew I couldn't go back to AU."

Marcantonio has flourished with the Terps, who are ranked No.1 in Soccer America magazine's final regular season poll and entered the tournament as the No.2 seed after winning the ACC tournament earlier this month. His six goals rank fourth on the team.

But with a team full of scoring threats, Marcantonio has been crucial in setting up chances for Abe Thompson, Domenic Mediate, Sumed Ibrahim and others.

"I came from a place where everything was based around me," Marcantonio said. "It was Nino, Nino, Nino. Here we have many talented players up top and in the midfield. We have a lot of stars. If I don't score a goal, we have Abe, we have Sumed, we have Domenic, we have guys coming off the bench like Erwin Diaz and Jason Garey who are all very talented players. We have such depth on this team."

Said Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski: "He has complementary skills to other players. We have a lot of speed and he's a left-footed player and he's a very good server for the ball. He has a real good nose for the goal. In many ways he's been humbled by some of the other great players we have on the team. I think it's been a blessing for him to not be the man."

Marcantonio concedes he's nervous about facing his former team for the first time. He didn't attend AU's opening-round defeat of George Washington last Saturday, but he knows the Terps will be challenged by a team with plenty of speed up front and an excellent goalkeeper in Michael Behonick, who made seven saves in AU's tournament opener.

"By leaving so abruptly after that season and having gone through two great years in a very good program, kind of feels betrayed a little bit," Marcantonio said. "When I came here, I kind of jumped the boat. But I still have great respect for the coach and the team. But I've moved on. We're achieving something very special here at Maryland, and I'm not going to let them affect my game."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide