- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 30, 2003

Abe Thompson returned to the Maryland soccer team’s starting lineup when it opened NCAA tournament play last week. Whether he’ll be there when it continues today is unknown.

Thompson, one of the country’s most explosive strikers, re-aggravated the foot injury that forced him to play sparingly for the last seven weeks of the regular season in the Terrapins’ 2-1 defeat of Old Dominion on Wednesday. His availability will be a game-time decision today as the second-seeded Terps (18-2-1) play host to 15th-seeded Akron (15-4-2) at Ludwig Field.

“It’s questionable,” Thompson said after sitting out practice yesterday. “I’m not going to start, but if things are going bad and aren’t going our way, they may put me in to give us a spark. We’re just going to wait for the game to start and see how things are going for us.”

Thompson, a second team All-ACC selection, was on his way to another prolific season when plantar fasciaitis, a foot injury associated with chronic overuse, forced him to the sideline in early October.

The ailment began bothering Thompson, who is flat-footed and does not receive much arch support, when the Terps played George Mason on Sept.24. Over the next two weeks, the injury became more painful, and Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski decided to get his star fresh for the postseason rather than risk further injury as the Terps plowed through the rest of the regular season.

Thompson made only brief appearances near the end of Maryland’s two ACC tournament games earlier this month, but it didn’t take him long Wednesday to prove he was back. Despite failing to convert a penalty kick for the first time in his career, Thompson rebounded to assist on Jason Garey’s goal in the first half.

“It was tremendous,” Cirovski said. “That was the reason we were very deliberate and patient … He was an inspiration. He made something happen every time he touched the ball for us. He played with the Abe Thompson will that we know he can give us.”

This season wasn’t the first time foot injuries had forced Thompson to the bench during his college career. After leading the Terps with 13 goals as a freshman, the Fairfax Station native missed the entire 2001 season with a broken right foot.

Thompson handled his latest injury well, especially since Garey emerged as a potent goal-scorer during Thompson’s absence. Garey leads the Terps with 11 goals, including eight since Oct.12.

Yet with forward Domenic Mediate — who scored four goals in last year’s NCAA tournament — out for the rest of the season after suffering a broken collarbone Wednesday, Thompson’s presence up front could be vital to the Terps’ national title hopes.

“Dom’s hurt now, so I know the team probably needs me even more now than ever,” said Thompson, who is tied for fourth all-time at Maryland with 80 points (31 goals, 18 assists). “But being a little bit questionable, this will give a chance for other people to step up and other people have all season long.”

Notes — If Thompson misses today’s game, Nino Marcantonio, Erwin Diaz or Jason Arnold would start at forward … Maryland lost to Akron 4-1 in its season opener in 1993, the only previous meeting. The game was Cirovski’s debut as Maryland’s coach. … Cirovski is going for his 150th victory at Maryland today. In 11 seasons with the Terps, he is 149-77-10.

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