- The Washington Times - Monday, December 8, 2003

The Maryland soccer team might have the most potent offense in the country. Saint Louis found out the hard way in the NCAA quarterfinals yesterday.

The second-seeded Terrapins scored twice late in the first half, then added two more goals in the first three minutes after the break to defeat the seventh-seeded Billikens 4-2 at Ludwig Field and earn their second straight trip to the final four.

“We’ve been a terrifically starting second-half team, and today was no different,” said Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski, who has led the Terps to three final fours. “The guys came out on fire. That response was as good as it gets — two goals in less than 10 minutes of the game.”

Maryland (20-2-1) will meet St. John’s (16-5-3) in the semifinals in Columbus, Ohio, on Friday.

The Terps fell behind 2-0, but senior Nino Marcantonio gave them a boost off the bench. Clarence Goodson headed in Marcantonio’s corner kick in the 37th minute, and Abe Thompson scored out of a goal mouth scrum created by another Marcantonio corner in the 43rd minute.

With the wind at their backs, the Terps quickly took the lead in the second half. Defender Kenney Bertz slipped a header past two defenders and keeper Martin Hutton (eight saves) 58 seconds after the break. Two minutes later, Jason Garey scored in an unsettled situation with assists from Seth Stammler and Marcantonio.

From there, the Terps’ defense bottled up the young Billikens (15-4-3) with the aid of the gusting wind. Saint Louis didn’t take a shot on goal in the second half and Vedad Ibisevic, the Billikens’ leading scorer, was held without a shot for the game.

Maryland did receive some injury scares late in the game. Thompson, who missed much of the last two months with plantar fasciaitis, hobbled off with an ankle injury in the 63rd minute. With seven minutes left, midfielder Scott Buete needed help leaving the field after an ankle injury.

The Billikens grabbed a lead in the seventh minute on an acrobatic play. Midfielder Will John sent a cross into the box to Alex Matteson, who used the back of his foot to fire a shot past stunned Maryland keeper Noah Palmer (two saves). Saint Louis scored again in the 33rd minute as Kevin Wickart deposited John DiRaimondo’s corner kick into the right corner of the goal.

In the final minutes, the game nearly degenerated into a brawl. Ibisevic was red-carded as part of a skirmish in the 89th minute precipitated by the frustrated Billikens.

In the second quarterfinal, sixth-seeded St. John’s defeated Creighton 3-2. The Red Storm rallied from a 2-0 deficit to reach their second final four in three years.

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