|Team – Maryland
|Conference – Big Ten
|Coach – Sasho Cirovski (22nd Season)
|Background – The Terrapin juggernaut marched on in 2013, as Maryland won the ACC tournament and reached the NCAA tournament final before dropping a 2-1 decision to Notre Dame. It was the team’s 13th consecutive trip to the NCAA tournament and the eighth College Cup appearance in coach Sasho Cirovski’s 21-year tenure. Maryland stumbled out of the blocks to a 1-2-2 start largely due to an uncharacteristically porous defense that allowed 12 goalsin that stretch. But the Terps quickly righted the ship and finished the regular season on a 9-1-3 run. They proceeded to post shutout victories over Boston College, Clemson and Virginia to take the ACC tourney title. They then topped Providence, UC Irvine and Cal to book their ticket to the College Cup, where they knocked off Virginia again before succumbing to the Fighting Irish. Forward Patrick Mullins won a second consecutive Hermann Trophy after a 19-goal, eight-assist campaign and went on to be drafted No. 11 overall by the New England Revolution. Beyond Mullins, it was a balanced scoring attack for UMD, with no player recording more than six goals or assists. Midfielder Dan Metzger joined Mullins on the All-ACC first team, with forward Schillo Tshuma nabbing second-team honors and defender Mikey Ambrose making the third team. Goalkeeper Zack Steffen and midfielder Michael Sauers were selected to the All-ACC Freshman team.
|Offense – With the departure of seniors Mullins (19g, 8a), Sunny Jane (2g, 6a) and Jake Pace (6g, 1a) plus the early exit of Tshuma (6g, 1a) to MLS, the Terps will need to replace a whopping 62 percent of their goal-scoring output from a year ago. They were dealt another blow when highly touted forward recruits Romain Gall (CSN’s No. 4 recruit) and Jordan Hamilton (No. 66) chose to sign professional contracts rather than attend college. But the cupboard is far from bare. Cirovski is considering pushing natural midfielders Michael Sauers (5g, 1a) and Alex Shinsky (1g, 1a) farther forward. Shinsky, a member of the U.S. U-17 World Cup team in 2009 and CSN’s No. 2 recruit in the Class of 2011, has struggled with injuries in College Park and managed just a goal and five assists in his first three seasons. But he played his best soccer in a Maryland uniform down the stretch last year and could be poised to finally break out. Junior forward David Kabelik (2g) has been buried on the depth chart the past couple years with such a deep stable of forwards ahead of him, but he’ll get a chance to shine this year. Incoming freshmen George Campbell, Eric Carbajal and Jeroen Meefout will also challenge for minutes, with Campbell (CSN’s No. 31 recruit) the best bet to make an early impact. The untested front line will be bolstered by an experienced and talented midfield corps. Key returnees Metzger (2g, 1a), Tsubasa Endoh (3g, 6a) and Jereme Raley (3a) will be bolstered by the arrival of Rutgers transfer Mael Corboz. A team captain and All-Conference first-team pick as a sophomore last fall, Corboz is a dynamic player who can provide excellent service and long-range scoring potential.
|Defense – Terrapins fans looking for reassurance that its inexperienced collection of forwards can come together quickly need look no further than its own 2013 defensive unit for an example of a young group jelling at warp speed. True freshmen Chris Odoi-Atsem and Suli Dainkeh each started at least 19 games on defense in front of true freshman goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who started all 26 contests. Another freshman, Alex Crognale, started 12 games as well. After conceding 2.4 goals per game in the first five contests last season, the unit tightened up and surrendered 0.9 per game over the final 21 contests. Ambrose started 25 games at left back as a sophomore and was an All-Conference honoree. Junior Dakota Edwards should play a bigger role on defense this year after injuries limited him to seven starts in 2013. Freshman Christoffer Wallander Ianev is an attacking right back who should also challenge for minutes. Considering five of these players have been called into U.S. U-20 National Team camp in their careers (Steffen, Odoi-Atsem, Dainkeh, Ambrose, Edwards), this defense has a chance to be special
Newcomers – Four Star Recruiting Class
Coach Cirovski stated: “While we lost a lot of attacking talent due to graduation, early departure to the pros and even a few committed kids that signed professionally before they got here, I am extremely confident that the combination of our returnees and newcomers will continue the tradition of playing attractive attacking soccer and contending for championships as is the Maryland Soccer custom.”
Jake Areman – Midfielder/Forward – Freehold, N.J. – Won 2014 U-18 Development Academy title with PDA. Led PDA in games played and notched three goals in 2013-14 season.
George Campbell – Midfielder/Forward – Baltimore, Md. – Two-time Gatorade Maryland Player of the Year and 2013 NSCAA National High School Player of the Year for McDonogh School. Led team to 2013 state title as a senior with a 21-0-1 record.Scored 23 goals and added 15 assists to finish with 46 goals and 48 assists in his career. Ranked the No. 31 player in the Class of 2014 by College Soccer News.
Eric Carbajal – Forward – Glendale, Ariz. – Late addition to Maryland’s recruiting class. Trained with Club America’s youth team in 2012.Scored 35 goals for Apollo High as a sophomore to earn The Arizona Republic West Valley Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year honors.
Mael Corboz – Midfielder – Green Brook, N.J. – Transfer from Rutgers. Started all 35 games the past two seasons for the Scarlet Knights.Totaled 10 goals and 13 assists in his Rutgers career.All-American Athletic Conference first-team selection in 2013.
Jeroen Meefout – Forward – Houten, Netherlands–Trained at PSV Eindhoven youth academy from ages 10-13 and Vitesse Arnhem youth academy from 14-16. Moved to FC Den Bosch at 17 and helped youth team reach semifinals of national youth tournament.
Christoffer Wallander Ianev – Defender – Gavle, Sweden –Competed at U-19 and U-21 level for club team Gefle IF. Trained several times with his club’s senior side. Won school championships with Borgarskolan.
|Prognosis for 2014 – The Terps face two key challenges in 2014: an inexperienced forward unit and a new set of conference foes as they enter the Big Ten. An itinerary that has featured familiar trips to Charlottesville, Chapel Hill and Winston-Salem is now dotted with visits to Ann Arbor, Evanston and Bloomington. A few early season slip-ups seem likely, but come November and December the Terps should be the same powerhouse they have been for two decades. In terms of talent, Maryland can match up with anyone at midfield, defense and goalkeeper, and there are enough weapons in the offensive arsenal that it would be seriously unwise to doubt Cirovski and Co. can reach a third consecutive College Cup.