- The Washington Times - Monday, June 24, 2019

Two losses in one weekend felt almost apocalyptic for the 1998 Maryland women’s lacrosse team.

It was the most Cathy Reese had lost in her college career. After three consecutive NCAA titles, losing was simply not an option for the senior captain.

“Oh my God, we kind of thought the world was ending,” Reese said in remembering that year’s team.

Reese didn’t let her team down, leading the Terrapins on another NCAA run, culminating in an 11-5 victory in the title game over Virginia. She was also named MVP.

More than two decades later, Reese is still cranking out championships with the Maryland women’s lacrosse team — though these days, she’s the coach.

Reese and Maryland men’s soccer coach Sasho Cirovski, were each inducted into the D.C. Sports Hall of Fame Sunday at Nationals Park as part of the class of 2019.

Both took home NCAA banners in their respective sports this past season — Cirovski’s third championship and Reese’s 12th (Reese started collecting early as a player).

While Reese was tacking on her fourth NCAA title as an athlete, Cirovski was in his first years of coaching.

When he arrived on campus in 1993, he said he couldn’t find the field because there wasn’t one.

“There wasn’t a lot to like about the program when I first got here,” Cirovski said. “There were no facilities. There were no lights. There were no media guys. There was nothing.”

Cirovski pursued the job in College Park after his future wife, who was coaching at George Washington University, sent him a fax about an open coaching position in the Maryland soccer program.

“It was an opportunity to come and be closer to my wife, my future wife Shannon,” he said. “But really second, I wanted to build something really special like I have at Maryland … I wanted to put Maryland soccer up there on the Mount Rushmore of college soccer.”

Looking back at some of the high points of more than 20 years of coaching in College Park, he remembered 2003.

In a rematch against UCLA, the Maryland home field — built in Cirovski’s third year — was transformed into a “field of dreams.”

Fans surrounded the “stage” at Ludwig Field on all four sides. They crowded behind the goals and inside the track for a rematch with the Bruins, who had beaten the Terrapins the year before.

Out of that, Cirovski remembers, came the formation of the team’s fan base — known as “The Crew.”

During Reese’s tenure with the lacrosse team, attendance has grown. This year, when the Terrapins matched up against North Carolina, she said there were more than 4,000 fans in the stands.

“[It’s] just record-breaking for us,” Reese said. “So it’s crazy to see the sport itself grow, which is growing at all different levels. You know, my kids were getting sticks when they were 5- year-olds.”

The sport’s development is also evident in the tournaments. When Reese was a freshman in 1995, there were six teams in the NCAA tournament. And with 28 teams in 2019, it’s more than quadrupled since.

“We’ve got support around us that’s fired up about lacrosse at Maryland,” Reese said. “You know we’re lacrosse in Maryland at Maryland. It doesn’t get bigger than that.”

And for Reese, standing up on a stage in an area dominated by football and baseball is telling.

“We are acknowledged amongst other sports that are bigger, you know, that are more widespread,” Reese said. “You’re seeing the impact and the growth of the sport.”

Like Reese, Cirovski realized the growing influence of soccer in a region rich with other professional sports.

“I’m particularly proud of the level of significance that our program has reached in an area so dominated by major pro sports and high-level collegiate sports,” he said.

The duo representing the Terrapins on Sunday, acknowledged each other in their statements at the ceremony.

“I’m very humbled to be here with this incredible group here, not only with all of the great inductees but also with a colleague in Cathy Reese,” Cirovski said.

“And [I’m] the lucky one that gets to work with Sasho every day,” Reese said.


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