- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 19, 2002

For nearly 18 months, Abe Thompson rehabilitated a broken foot and pined for a chance to be part of the revitalization of the men's soccer program at Maryland.
Now the sophomore forward is back. Not coincidentally, so are the Terrapins.
Thompson shares the team lead with seven goals and has added six assists, sparking the Terps' offense in the first seven weeks of the season. Meanwhile, Maryland (10-3) has re-emerged as a national power entering tonight's game at George Mason (6-2-2).
Thompson was expected to be the Terps' offensive pacesetter when he arrived in College Park in 2000. As a freshman, he quickly adapted to the college game and scored 13 goals for an injury-depleted squad. But during the following offseason, he broke his right foot, an injury that forced him to take a medical redshirt.
Thompson's one-year absence was just part of a string of injuries and bad luck that beset Maryland after it reached the national semifinals in 1998. The 1999 team, featuring current New England Revolution star Taylor Twellman, lost in the first round of the NCAA tournament on a breakaway goal in the closing minutes. The next season, seven players were lost to injury before the end of September, and a makeshift lineup struggled to a 10-9 finish.
Last fall most of the team was healthy, but Thompson remained sidelined. Though the Terps went 11-9-1 and returned to the NCAAs after a one-year hiatus, they lacked a consistent scoring threat.
For Thompson, it was a difficult test of patience, especially while watching games from the bench.
"It was very tough going through those couple of tough years we had there," Thompson said. "I couldn't be part of it, out there helping them score some goals. Maybe I could have helped them win a couple more games. If I saw a good chance that was squandered, I knew I maybe could have put it away."
Thompson continued his rehab last spring, but no one was sure if he ever would be the same player, though coach Sasho Cirovski saw occasional signs of greatness in the summer. But by the end of the first half of the Terps' season opener against Rhode Island, the answer was clear. With two goals at the break of what was to become an 8-0 victory, Thompson again was an offensive weapon.
His presence has aided Maryland all season. The Terps, ranked No.10 in this week's Soccer America poll, already boast victories over defending national champion North Carolina, perennial power Duke and Loyola, the team that knocked Maryland out of last year's NCAA tournament. Nino Marcantonio, a transfer from American University, and freshman Erwin Diaz have combined for nine goals. Sumed Ibrahim (seven goals) and Domenic Mediate provide Cirovski with a wealth of speed.
The emergence of other scoring threats has helped create opportunities for Thompson. However, the Fairfax Station native is still the one who makes the offense go.
"That's where it benefits Abe, it benefits Sumed, it benefits all the other guys," Cirovski said. "It's more than just Abe, but Abe is the catalyst."
Despite the successful return, neither Thompson nor his coach claims he has returned to the level he was at two years ago. A difficult schedule that includes George Mason, Clemson and Virginia as well as the ACC and NCAA tournaments still looms, and continued production from Thompson likely will be necessary for Maryland to have a deep postseason run.
"I feel comfortable, but I think I'm not fully back yet," Thompson said. "After a year and a half out, you can't get back in a couple weeks. I still have some things I need to work on."

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