|School – University of Maryland|
|Conference – Big Ten|
|Coach – Sasho Cirovski (24th Season)|
Background – Maryland became a member of the Big Ten in 2014 after many years of membership in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Terps were 12-5-6 overall in 2015 with a 3-2-3 record in conference play which was good for a third place finish in Big Ten regular season play.
Maryland topped Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio State to win the 2015 Big Ten Conference Tournament and received the number ten seed in the 2015 NCAA Tournament. The Terps subsequently topped Virginia and Notre Dame to advance to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the past four seasons.
Maryland has been under the leadership of head coach Sasho Cirovski since 1993. During that time the Terps have become one of the premier college soccer programs in the country.
Maryland has recorded twenty-two straight winning seasons. They claimed national championships in 1968, 2005, and 2008. The Terps have earned a total of thirty-five invites to the NCAA Tournament including the past fifteen years in a row. They have advanced to the College Cup (Final Four) a total of eight times under Cirovski (1998, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2012,2013) and have captured a total of thirteen conference titles including winning their conference tournament the past four seasons in a row.
In 2015 midfielder Mael Corboz was an All-Big Ten First selection. Midfielder Tsubasa Endoh, defenders Alex Crognale and Chris Odoi-Atsem and forward Sebastian Elney were All-Big Ten Second Team selections. Forward Eryk Williamson along with Elney were named to 2015 the Big Ten All-Freshman Team.
Offense – Key losses due to graduation include midfielders Mael Corboz (2g, 12a) and Tsubasa Endoh (5g, 6a). Corboz was a two-time All-Big Ten First team honoree and playmaker who transfered to Maryland after playing two seasons for Rutgers. Endoh was a three-year starter and 2015 All-Big Ten Second Team member whose quickness and touch on the ball added an additional dimension to the Terp attack.
Sophomore forwards Sebastian Elney (7g, 2a) and Eryk Williamson (6g, 5a) return with the benefit of a year of starting experience under their belts. Their emergence as the season progressed last year gave the Terp offense a much needed jump start that significantly improved their competitiveness and productivity. Both are very capable finishers and difference makers. The addition of sophomore Gordon Wild who is a transfer from USC Upstate where he led the nation in goals scored last year will give Maryland another talented finisher up-top. Chances are pretty good that Wild will hit the ground running but it remains to be seen just how he will respond to the challenge of going up against the very physical and talented defenders that he will face in Big Ten play.
Sophomores Amar Sejdic (3g, 2a) and Andrew Samuels and graduate student Cody Albrecht (0g, 1a) are among returning midfielders who should play key roles in 2016. Junior George Campbell (3g, 1a), sophomore Connor Smith and senior Michael Sauers are among other returning midfielders who should be in the mix.
The addition of junior transfer Jake Rozhansky from Virginia should help fill the void that exists due to the graduation of Corboz and Endoh. Rozhansky was a two-year starter at Virgina and 2015 All-ACC Second Team selection. He appears to have all of the skills needed to easily transition into Maryland's system of play. Highly regarded attacking midfielder freshman Keegan Kelly is among other members of the recruiting class who can add additional punch to the offense and should compete for minutes from the get-go.
Defense – The backline looks to be solid with the return of seniors Alex Crognale (4g, 0a), Chris Odoi-Atsem (1g, 1a) and Suli Dainkeh (0g, 1a). All three are experienced and talented defenders who have played a key role over the past three seasons. Sophomore Diego Silva who started eleven contests last year is a highly regarded back who looks to be in the hunt for a starting role. Sophomore Aaron Franco is among other returning backs who will seek to play a greater role in 2016.
Freshmen backs Miles Stray out of the Salt Lake Academy, Donovan Pines out of the D.C. United Academy and Griffin Bouchard out of the Bethesda-Olney Academy are all athletic and strong central defenders who will likely have a learning curve but could be in the hunt for playing time.
Redshirt senior Cody Niedermeier who was the starter in goal last year returns between the pipes. Niedermeier, who was named the Defensive MVP Player of the 2015 Big Ten Tournament, will anchor the backline. He had a 0,80 goals against average last year and recorded nine clean sheets. The experience Niedermeier gained as the Terp starter between the pipes last year was reflected in the level and confidence of his play as the season progressed. Sophomore Dayne St. Clair, a U-20 Canadian National Team member who starterd two contests for Maryland last year, also returns between the pipes to give Maryland another solid netminder.
Newcomers – Five Star Recruiting Class
Coach Cirovski stated, "I am very excited to welcome another special class to the Maryland Soccer family. I am confidnet they will leave their mark on Maryland both individually and collectively." He added, "Combined with a strong returning group, I feel we will have the ability to build on last year's success and contend for both conference and national championships."
Jake Rozhansky – Midfielder – Germantown, Maryland – A junior transfer from Virginia who was named to the 2015 All-ACC Second Team and to the 2014 ACC All-Freshman Team. Named to the 2014 College Soccer News All-Freshman Second Team. Member of the U.S. U-20 National Team.
Gordon Wild – Forward – Cologne, Germany – Sophomore transfer from USC Upstate. Named A-Sun Freshman of the Year and A-Sun All-Conference. First Team NSCAA All-Southeast Region Team. College Soccer News 2015 All-Freshman Team selection. Ranked number one in the nation in goals scored in 2015.
Justin Bajek – Goalkeeper – Middletown, Delaware – St. Elizabeth High School – Played for YSC Academy. Adidas International Select Team. Played for Philadelphia Union Academy.
Griffin Bouchard – Defender – Washington, D.C. – Woodrow Wilson High School – Played for Bethesda-Olney Academy.
Mike Heitzmann – Midfielder – Clarksville, Maryland – River Hill High School – NSCAA All-Mid-Atlantic Region in 2014 and 2015. All-State selection. Baltimore Sun All-Metro Team and Washington Post All-Metro Team. Played for Severna Park Fever Club.
Keegan Kelly – Midfielder – Baltimore, Maryland – Ranked by College Soccer News as the number nine player in the class of 2016. Member of U.S. Soccer U-17 Residency Program. All-American in 2014 and 2015. Played for Celtic Soccer Club.
Luca Levee – Midfielder – Kingston, Jamaica – Milton Academy – Played for Huracan Valencia CF. U-20 Jamaican National Team Member.
Donovan Pines – Defender – Clarksville, Maryland – River Hill High School – Played for D.C. United. U.S. Soccer Training Center invite and Select Game invite.
Miles Stray – Defender – Point Reyes, California – Member of the U.S. Soccer U-17 Residency Program. Ranked as the number forty-seven player in the class of 2016 by College Soccer News. Played for Real Salt Lake Academy.
Prognosis for 2016 – Maryland's winning ways should continue in 2016. The Terps are always extremely competitive but particularly so when the gaps they have to fill are limited solely to losses due to graduation and do not include departures due to players leaving early to enter the professional ranks. Maryland should enter the 2016 season with a high national ranking and among the favorites to win the Big Ten Conference title.
The Terps will have to lean heavily on young players on the offensive side of the ball but the good news is that sophomore forwards Sebastian Elney (7g, 2a) and Eryk Williamson (6g, 5a) and transfer Gordon Wild now have a year of collegiate starting experinece under their belts.
Maryland will miss midfielders Mael Corbez and Tsubasa Endoh but a solid foundation returns along with junior transfer Jake Rozhansky and freshman Keegan Kelly who are welcome additions that should help fill the void.
The Terps must also replace starting back Ivan Magalhaes but with senior backs Alex Crognale, Chris Odoi-Atem and Suli Dainkeh all slated to return along with redshirt senior goalkeeper Cody Niedermeier they look to be in good shape on the defensive side of the ball.
The Terps will have their sights set on winning the Big Ten title, advancing to the College Cup, and claiming the programs fourth national title. All are formidable tasks but there are plenty of reasons to fear the turtle in 2016.
Crucial success factors include the avoidence of key injuries, whether or not Cirovski gets the improvement he expects from the sophomores, and the ability of newcomers Rozhansky and Wild to make a smooth transition and live up to expectations. All things considered, Maryland looks to be well equipped to make national noise once again,