- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 28, 2004

Chris Lancos’ presence as an outside back has helped the Maryland men’s soccer team reach the final four the last two seasons.

The Terps’ decision to move him back there could be key to a third straight run to the College Cup.

A junior defender, Lancos has a team-high 10 assists for the third-seeded Terrapins (16-5-1), who play host to 14th-seeded Creighton (14-4-1) this afternoon at Ludwig Field in the NCAA round of 16.

“I know when to attack and when to defend,” Lancos said. “I just give the team that other dimension, another right side player who can get it up the sideline and get some balls into the box.”

Lancos started on the outside of the Terps’ back line the last two seasons, but the departures of center backs Clarence Goodson and Seth Stammler prompted a move to the inside. Lancos had no problems with the transition, but the Terps struggled to get an offensive boost from the right side of the field.

After the Terps lost to Penn State on Oct. 14 and dropped to 7-4-1, Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski decided to shuffle his defenders. With Lancos’ attacking skills limited from the middle, he returned to right back while junior Michael Dello-Russo shifted to the inside.

The move probably couldn’t have worked much better. Lancos recorded assists in key regular-season defeats of Virginia Commonwealth and Virginia, then added four more in the ACC tournament. Since the change, Maryland is 9-1 and has outscored its opponents 21-6.

In Maryland’s NCAA opener against Hofstra on Tuesday, Lancos sent a 40-yard pass across the box that Domenic Mediate deposited for the Terps’ first goal. Less than 15 minutes later, Lancos created a turnover and sent a pass upfield to Jason Garey, who scored the final goal of the Terps’ 4-0 rout.

“It’s been great having him on the right side,” Garey said. “He’s able to get forward a lot more and he’s much more of a threat than some of the guys we’ve had playing there this year. … He’s given me four or five assists in the past six or seven games, so it’s been great for me and our team.”

Lancos’ play is no surprise given his history, though Cirovski wondered if it was possible to lure the Middletown, N.J., native to College Park. Lancos didn’t even plan to visit Maryland, but he finally relented after the persistent Cirovski badgered Lancos’ coach a couple times a day.

“He just kept and calling and calling,” Lancos said. “I eventually canceled [my trip] to Duke and took a visit here and I loved it.”

Maryland was certainly thrilled to get him. A three-year starter, Lancos has missed only five games in his career — all while he was with the under-20 national team for the World Youth Championships in 2002. But Lancos actually has turned down other chances to play for national teams, preferring instead to commit his efforts to winning a title with the Terps.

“I think he was at times frustrated because he was getting playing time here and didn’t get a lot of playing time with the national team at that point,” Cirovski said. “One time he turned down a trip to the national team because he didn’t want to miss preseason here. Basically, he decided this team was more important than the national team, which said a lot about him as a person and his commitment to this program.”

Notes — Maryland and Creighton have split their two previous meetings, with Maryland winning 3-2 in the 1998 NCAA quarterfinals and the Bluejays upending the Terps 2-1 early in the 2001 season. Both games were played at Ludwig Field. … Maryland is 11-2 in NCAA tournament home games since 1998, including its current seven-game winning streak.

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