- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 7, 2003

For years, Maryland soccer coach Sasho Cirovski heard Gary Buete rave about Jason Garey, a young player at Buete’s club in Baton Rouge, La. Finally, Buete said something that really got Cirovski’s attention.

“At one point he made a statement to me which he’s not going to like, but he said, ‘He could be better than Scotty [Buete, a 2002 third team All-American for the Terrapins and Gary’s brother],’” Cirovski recalled this week.

Cirovski immediately took notice of Garey, just as Maryland’s opponents have this season. The sophomore forward leads the second-seeded Terps (19-2-1) with 12 goals entering today’s NCAA tournament quarterfinal against seventh-seeded Saint Louis (15-3-3) at Ludwig Field.

His emergence has been a necessity for the Terps, who played without star forward Abe Thompson (plantar fasciaitis) for the last month of the regular season. Just as Thompson returned late last month, forward Domenic Mediate suffered a broken collarbone and was lost for the season.

“I think I’ve been feeling a little more pressure, but it’s something I’m used to,” Garey said. “Every other team I’ve played for, I’ve had the chance to score. It’s no different — it’s just a bigger stage.”

It’s a stage Garey wasn’t sure he would reach. When he first attended Cirovski’s summer soccer camp in 2001, he was ill for almost his entire stay and had little opportunity to play but impressed the Maryland staff with his attitude.

When he returned to the area for a club tournament in November 2001, he scored eight goals in three games. The day after the tournament ended, Cirovski convinced Garey, who was also recruited by Notre Dame and several smaller schools, to commit to Maryland.

Still, his approach continued to wow Cirovski. Before his first college season, Garey came to the area early and took a job with a landscaping company.

“The guy who owns it called me and said, ‘You’ve got a gem. The guy’s knee-high in manure and he hasn’t complained once,’” Cirovski said. “You know there’s unbelievable humility and work ethic in the kid. That’s part of putting yourself in those scoring situations. The 18-yard box is filled with a lot of big bodies, and it takes courage and a positive attitude to put yourself in those positions.”

Garey turned in a solid freshman season a year ago, scoring three goals while appearing in all 25 games. After he had an impressive spring season, Cirovski gushed about how Garey would be the team’s next star.

Garey shuttled in and out of the lineup to begin the season and produced three goals and two assists as part of Maryland’s deep attack. When Thompson was sidelined, Garey slid into a starting slot and has scored nine times in his last 11 games, including goals in NCAA games against Old Dominion and Akron.

“Anytime you get to start, you get a lot more confidence,” Garey said. “You know the coaches think you are able to handle starting and playing a lot more minutes. I’m sure I would have played a lot if Abe hadn’t got hurt, but I was fortunate to get a chance to prove what I can do.”

Notes — Creighton and St. John’s will play another quarterfinal after the Maryland-Saint Louis game. The game originally was scheduled for Friday in Jamaica, N.Y., but was moved south with 2 feet of snow expected in the New York area. …

This is the sixth meeting between Maryland and Saint Louis, all in the NCAA tournament. The Terps defeated the Billikens 1-0 in the round of 16 last year. … With a win, Maryland would have consecutive final four appearances for the first time since 1969. … Thompson and forward Erwin Diaz (flu), who missed the 1-0 defeat of Akron in the third round, are probable.

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