- The Washington Times - Monday, November 21, 2005

The Maryland men’s soccer team had just lost in the ACC semifinals in Cary, N.C., 11 days ago, but dwelling on the defeat wasn’t much of a priority.

Instead, the Terrapins quickly turned their attention to returning to Cary’s SAS Stadium — the site of this year’s College Cup.

“Pretty much right after the game, we were walking off and [we said], ‘Guys, we’re going to come back here, definitely, without a doubt. We’re going to make sure we get back here,’ ” senior defender Kenney Bertz said.

There is good cause for such confidence. The Terps (15-4-1) begin the road to a fourth straight final four appearance tonight when they play host to Brown (11-4-2) at Ludwig Field in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Maryland is the top seed for the first time and, as in the last three postseasons, the Terps won’t have to leave College Park to reach the semifinals.

Even with the recent run, the Terps have been mildly surprising this season. Gone after last year were offensive mainstays Abe Thompson and Domenic Mediate, as well as midfielder Ian Rodway and goalkeeper Noah Palmer, a four-year starter. Maryland was picked to finish third in the ACC, hardly insulting for such a deep league but not the stuff of a team that since has developed into the NCAA’s No. 1 overall seed.



Yet the Terps have just rolled along. Senior Jason Garey, who briefly considered turning pro last year before returning, has scored 20 goals and is a favorite for the Hermann Trophy, college soccer’s equivalent of the Heisman. Sophomore midfielder Stephen King (12 goals, eight assists) and freshman striker Robbie Rogers (six goals) emerged to take pressure off Garey.

Freshman keeper Chris Seitz took over the starting job at midseason and is 9-1-1. A talented back line anchored by seniors Bertz, Chris Lancos and Michael Dello-Russo has yielded only 19 goals in 20 games.

“I knew we had good players, but it’s still surprising,” Garey said. “Everyone was looking to knock us off after the seasons we’ve had the last three years and we lost a lot of good players after last year, but we’ve done pretty well.”

Maryland has thrived despite facing its typically brutal schedule. A quarter of the 32 teams remaining in the NCAA field are from the ACC, and the Terps went 8-4-1 against teams invited to the 48-team draw.

However, the Terps have enjoyed similar seasons in the past, only to fall shy of a national title.

Maryland has lost in the semifinals four times in the last seven years, including the past three. Those memories remain strong with the Terps, who seem rejuvenated now that the NCAA tournament has arrived.

“I’m very proud of what we accomplished,” coach Sasho Cirovski said. “I think we’ve set a culture within this program of success. I’m really pleased with that. [But] there’s an emptiness inside that’s not going to be fulfilled until we bring home a national championship, and I don’t mind saying that.”

Note — In other second-round games involving area teams, Virginia Tech will play host to UNCGreensboro at 5 p.m. and Virginia will entertain South Florida at 7 p.m.

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