- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 27, 2005

A year ago, former club teammates Marc Burch and Kenney Bertz would have occasional online conversations, trading stories about how their respective college soccer teams were faring. While Burch wasn’t happy playing for a struggling program at Evansville, Bertz was on his way to his third final four in as many seasons at Maryland.

It was a situation Burch longed for — a better team, a chance to improve his skills and the opportunity to play meaningful games in November for one of the nation’s top programs — and the striker found it with a transfer to Maryland before last spring.

Burch hasn’t enjoyed a perfect senior season, but he is winning. He also has provided two critical goals this month for the Terrapins (16-4-1), including a first-half score in Tuesday’s 1-0 victory over Brown in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

“When I haven’t been starting, people told me, ‘At least you’re on a good team, if not the best. If you guys win the national championship or go far in the final four, at least you’re a part of it,’” said Burch, whose top-seeded Terps play host to St. John’s (11-5-5) today in the round of 16. “I wasn’t saying this is horrible. I’m on a good team. If I can get a goal or just play, I’ve taken on that role. It really does a lot for me to be starting and contributing to the season.”

He did both at Evansville, but he endured enough losing in three seasons — the Purple Aces were 22-31-6 with no postseason appearances during his stay — to prompt him to “decide spur of the moment” to leave. With the help of coach Dave Golan, Burch spread the word he was looking for a new home.

One of the schools he contacted was Maryland, which needed offensive help after striker Abe Thompson’s departure. Burch knew Bertz from their days with Team Dayton, which the pair led to an under-17 club national title in 2001, and the defender served as a middle man between Burch and the coaching staff during the transfer process.

“I was hesitant with the idea of a guy coming in for one year,” Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski said. “Had it not been with the support of Kenney Bertz and the relationship they had, I probably wouldn’t have considered bringing a guy in for one year. He did fill a void with another striker for us. With Marc, it became too much of a win-win situation.”

Burch arrived in College Park in the spring, which helped speed his acclimation process. An injury initially limited how much he could participate in soccer activities, though he was both impressed and a bit awed by his new teammates.

“It was a huge adjustment, really,” Burch said. “First of all, it was a huge school, and I didn’t know anyone besides Kenney. I had just gotten [minor knee] surgery before I was coming down to Maryland. I was just watching the level they were playing at, and I was kind of nervous because I had never been around a program that was that good.”

Burch’s comfort level increased over the summer, and he was starting alongside possible Hermann Trophy winner Jason Garey by the start of the year. With a strong left foot and excellent passing skills, the 6-foot-2 Burch was a perfect complement to Garey’s finishing skills.

A week into the season, he suffered a deep calf bruise and missed the next four games, which knocked him out of his rhythm a bit. He settled into a role as the first man off the bench, making only one start in the last nine regular-season games.

However, Burch scored in overtime to lift the Terps past Virginia Tech earlier this month — his first goal against a ranked opponent this year — and then again Tuesday in his return to the starting lineup.

“The biggest thing he’s lacked is the confidence,” Cirovski said. “He does have a bit of swagger now. If that continues, he’s going to be a big help.”

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