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Maryland 2017 Team and Recruiting Class Review

School:  University of Maryland
Conference:  Big Ten 
Coach:  Sasho Cirovski – 25th Season
2016 Record: 18-1-2 overall – 7-0-1 in conference 
2016 Final Season Ending National Rank: Number 5 by College Soccer News – Number 7 by the NSCAA.  
Key Losses from the 2016 Team: Defenders Alex Crognale (6g, 1a), Suli Dainkeh (1g, 1a), and Chris Odoi-Atsem (1g, 6a). Goalkeeper Cody Niedermeier. Midfielder Cody Albrecht (0g, 2a). 

Five Year Win Total:

2012:  20

2013:  17

2014:  13

2015:  12

2016:  18

2016 Goals Scored and Goals Against:  53 scored – 24 allowed 
Key 2016 Statistic:  Maryland ranked as the number two team in the country in scoring offense averaging 2.52 goals per game. 

Background:  Maryland under the direction of Sasho Cirovski is among the premier programs in the country.

The Terps were members of the Atlantic Coast Conference from 1993 through 2010 before moving to the Big Ten in 2011. They won the ACC Tournament six times (1996, 2002, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013) and have claimed the Big Ten Tournament Title three of the five seasons to date that they have been a member of the conference.

Maryland's resume boasts a total of thirty-six berths in the NCAA Tournament including the past sixteen years in a row. The Terps have advanced to the coveted College Cup (Final Four) a total of thirteen times in the history of the program. (1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1969, 1998, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2012, 2013) and won National Championships in 1968, 2005 and 2008. Eight of the trips to the Final Four and two of the National Championshiips occurred after Cirovski assumed the reigns of the program in 1993. 

In 2016, the Terps finished regular season play with a 16-0-2 overall record includinig a 7-0-1 mark in Big Ten play to claim the regular season title. Maryland then advanced past Michigan, Michigan State, and Wisconsin to win the Big Ten Tournament Title to improve their overall record to 18-0-2.

Maryland was subsequently awarded the number one seed in the 2016 NCAA Tournament. However, their season then came to a sudden and unexpected end when they were upset by Providence 5-4 in the NCAA Tournament to conclude the 2016 campaign with an 18-1-2 record and a program best fifteen game-winning streak. .

Forward Gordon Wild was named a 2016 First Team All-Amercian by the NSCAA and College Soccer News and was honored as the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year. Defender Alex Crognale was named a 2016 First Team All-American by the NSCAA and College Soccer News and was named the 2016 Big Tean Defensive Player of the Year.  Cody Niedermeier was named the 2016 Big Ten Goalkeeper of the Year.

Wild, Crognale, Niedermeier were named All-Big Ten First Team selections along with defender Chris Odoi-Atsem and midfielder Amar Sejdic. Defender Suli Dainkeh and midfielder Eryk Williamson were All-Big Ten Second Team selections. Defender Donovan Pines was named to the 2016 Big Ten All-Freshman Team. 

Number Starters Returning in 2017: Six 

Offense: Maryland will have a ton of offensive firepower beginning up-top with junior All-American Gordon Wild (17g, 5a). His return for another season is a huge plus. Wild had a stellar freshman season at USC Upstate in 2015 during which he led the nation in goals scored. His productiviety in 2015 served as a springboard to transfer to Maryland last year. .

Any questions that may have existed about Wild's ability to successfully make the transition from the Atlantic Sun conference to the rigors of the Big Ten Conference were quickly put to rest and answered in the affirmative.  Wild is among the top finishers in the country with the big play ability, competitive experience, and athleticism required to cause a lot of problems for opposing defenders. He is a difference maker with the skill and toughness needed to take over a contest.   

Junior Sebastian Elney (3g, 4a) and junior speedster D.J. Reeves (3g, 6a) add an additional dimension to the attack up-top. Both are very capable finishers. Freshman Eric Matzelevich out of DC United and Gio Vasquez out of the Loudon Soccer Club might figure in the rotation up-top as the season progresses.

The midfield looks to be very solid and will add explosiveness to the attack. Senior Jake Rozhansky (3g, 8a) and juniors Amar Sejdic (9g, 9a) and Eryk Williamson (3g, 5a) all possess big play ability and do a lot of things very effectively.

Junior Jorge Calik (1g, 1a) who appeared in nineteen contests last year and sophomore Kegan Kelly (1g, 0a) who appeared in seventeen matches should also play key roles in the midfield in 2017. Sophomore midfielder Luca Levee who saw action in six games last year looks to be in the hunt for additional minutes in 2017.

Sophomore transfer Eli Crognale who played one year at Belmont Univiersity appears to be an ideal fit for Maryland's up-tempo style of play and is among the newcomers with the potential to contribute right away in the midfield.

Defense: The graduation of backs Alex Crognale, Suli Dankeh and Chris Odoi-Atsem and goalkeeper Cody Niedermeier means the Terp defense will be a work in progress entering the 2017 campaign. That is a lot of talent and expereince to replace.

However, there are always extremely capable players at Maryland who are waiting for the opportunity to play a greater role. Junior Andrew Samuels (0g, 0a) and sophomore Donovan Pines (0g, 1a) and junior George Campbell (3g, 2a) are among returning players who will give Cirovski a solid base around which to build.

Junior Connor Smith who played in nine contests last year and sophomore Miles Stray who saw action in six matches in 2016 are among returning players who look to be in contention for a starting role and greater responsibility in the back in 2017.. .

Redshirt sophomore Dayne St. Clair, who has been a member of the U-18 and U-20 Canadian National Teams, looks to be ready to take over the starting role in goal. St. Clair is an atlhletic and very sound netminder who should hit the ground running. 


Coach Cirovski stated, "We are very excited to welcome another great class to Maryland Soccer. We have added great young men with both high character and soccer pedigree." He added, "Even though we lost some outstanding talent in the back, we feel that we have improved our overall team."

Eli Crognale – Midfiedler – Gahanna, Ohio – Gahanna Lincoln – A sophomore transfer from Belmont University where he was an Horizon League All-Freshman selection. Played for the Columbus Crew SC Academy. 

Ben DiRosa – Defender – Washington D.C. – Four-year starter for Bethesda Academy. Participant is U.S. Soccer regional training centers.

Matt DiRosa – Midfielder – Washington D.C. – Four-year starter for Bethesda Academy. Ranked by College Soccer News as the number 127 player in the class of 2017.  

Paul Frendach – Midfielder – Dunkirk, Maryland – Dematha Catholic – Played for the Celtic Soccer Club. First Team WCAC in 2016. 

Petr Janda – Goalkeeper – Silver Spring, Maryland – Bullis School – Played for Baltimore Armour U-18 Development Academy. Three Time All Interstate Athletic Conference selectin. 

Eric Matzelevich – Forward – Washington, D.C. – Played for the DC United U-18 Youth Academy Team. Played in England with U-18 Reading FC Youth Academy. Ranked by College Soccer News as the number 65 Player in it's final 2017 class rankings. 

Gio Vasquez – Forward – Leesburg, Virginia – Heritage High School – First Team All-Conference. All-Metro. All-State. Played for the Loudon Soccer Club. Best XI in 2015 and 2016. Ranked as the number 93 Player in the Class of 2017 by College Soccer News. 

Progonis for 2017: At first glance, it may appear that Maryland will take a step backward in 2017 based on the crucial voids that must be filled on the defensvie side of the ball where experience and organization are always key factors.

But experience has established that the Terps under Sasho Cirovski always manage to successfully reload every season, particularly when the departures are limited to graduation and don't include additional losses due to players leaving early to enter the professional ranks.

Cirovski has indicated that he thinks the Terps will actually be stronger from top to bottom in 2017 than they were in 2016. That may be a bit of a stretch when you consider, NCAA Tournament excuded, the success that the program enjoyed last year but then again he may be right. What is likely is that Maryland will experience a learning curve early on as new faces in starting roles gel in the back but will grow stronger as the season progresses.

The Terps will enter the 2017 season with as many potent weapons on the offensive side of the ball as any team in the country. A ton of offensive firepowere returns from the 2016 team that placed the rock in the back of the net a total of fifty-three times.

Gordon Wild, Sebastian Elney, Eryk Williamson, D.J. Reeves, Amar Sejdic, and Jake Rozhansky are all capable playmakers. Wild will no doubt continue to be the primary option in Maryland's high powered attack but he will by no means be the only option.  

Maryland has added a very good but probably not vintage Terp recruiting class. The newcomers will likely grow into contributors under Cirvoski's guidance but at least for now the class appears to be a work in progress.

Maryland's defense will boast little of the returning experience that the offense will have. As a result, the big question heading into the 2017 season is whether or not the new starters on the defensive side of the ball can bear the weight of the additional responsibility they will assume.

A lot will likely hinge on the level of play of defenders like senior George Campbell, junior Connor Smith and sophomores Miles Stray and Donovan Pines. The play of redshirt sophomore Dayne St. Clair in goal will also be particularly important as he is the one who will need to anchor, organize, and provide stability while the defense gels.  

There is a pretty good chance that reloading the defense may not prove to be as daunting a task as it appears. Regardless, at this point in time that looks to be the X-Factor and the number one priority at Maryland heading into the 2017 campaign. 


Posted in 2017 Team Reviews

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