As Michigan’s Fabio Pereira’s shot made its way into the back of Maryland’s net on Dec. 4, for a moment the Terrapins’ 2010 season in its entirety was forgotten. Forgotten was the ACC Tournament Championship, the 15-game win streak, the high-powered offense, and especially the #2 seed. All that remained was an upset to the #10 seed Michigan in double overtime of the NCAA Quarterfinals.
Despite that final disappointment, the 2010 campaign was considered an exciting and successful one by most standards, one where the Terps brought their first ACC title to College Park since 2008 and had numerous players receive national recognition and head on to the pro ranks.
But for a program as consistent and successful as the University of Maryland, the upcoming 2011 campaign begins no different than any other season, starting with one goal in mind: a national championship.
More after the jump.
As the Terps’ season opener on Aug. 26 against St. John’s quickly approaches, Maryland must find a way to infuse their inexperienced talent into a lineup that will without a doubt experience growing pains early on in the season.
Perhaps the most pressing question coming into the fall is who will replace all-world goalkeeper Zac MacMath, who departed for the MLS after his junior year. He was selected by the Philadelphia Union with the fifth overall selection of the MLS SuperDraft.
As long as MacMath was barking orders between the posts, Maryland fans have always been at ease, but with his departure along with Billy Cortes (New York Red Bulls), Jason Herrick (Chicago Fire), Ethan White (D.C United), Matt Kassel (Red Bulls) and those lost to graduation (Doug Rodkey, Will Swaim and Greg Young) Terp fans will need to get used to some fresh new faces.
Those new faces will be largely made up of the exciting recruiting class Sasho Cirovski has brought to College Park, considered one of the best hauls of talent in the country.
Among the six signees, Alex Shinsky looks to create the most buzz among the freshman after being tabbed as the No. 1 recruit in the nation according to TopDrawerSoccer.com. The promising midfielder Parade All-American hopes to make it into the Terp’s rotation early along with defender Kyle Roach (New York Red Bull Academy), both whom graduated early from their respective high schools to enroll a semester early at Maryland.
Dan Metzger, a midfielder from Staten Island, N.Y and member of the U-18 National Team, is the classes’ second highest rated player based on TopDrawerSoccer’s rankings (14th overall). Patrick Seymour was the latest of the six signees and is a defender that hails from Canada who played on their U-17 World Cup team.
Outside of Shinsky the most looked at recruit(s) will be the two incoming goalies who will battle to be MacMath’s heir to the Terps goal. My pick would be Keith Cardona, a big (6’4”, 200) keeper out of New Jersey whose play with the U-17 and U-18 National teams give him a leg up over Jordan Tatum, a lightly ranked keeper out of Manassas, VA.
While these talented recruits make their way to College Park, the Terps already possess veteran and experienced players for the upcoming season, led by All-ACC selection Casey Townsend. Townsend was already considered one of the Terps most vital players last season but his importance, as a player and leader, will only rise in 2011.
Outside of Townsend, sophomore Sunny Jane and rising senior Matt Oduaran need to step up at the forward position. Jane looks to be the more promising option after tallying three goals in 19 appearances last year compared to Oduaran’s two goals in three years with the program. However, Oduaran was limited by an injury last season, holding him to 15 games and his lowest shots taken total (5) of his career.
Reigning ACC Freshmen of the Year Patrick Mullins, who caught fire as the season progressed, notching five goals and four assists, will be looked upon to contribute and create more his sophomore season. If Mullins picks up where he left off in 2010, the Terps will have a far smoother transition with all their losses.
The transition will be rough none the less, given the high level of opponents on the 2011 schedule. Maryland will face seven teams ranked in College Soccer News’s Preseason Top 30 (the Terps are #8). The biggest home games of the year will be back-to-back showdowns with Charlotte and Creighton at Ludwig Sept. 27 and 30. As always, a matchup with Duke on Oct. 14 will bring the crowds out.
So in Germantown, Md. on August 26, the Terps officially can start to move past the loss to Michigan and start building a foundation for a national title run when they kick off the season against St. John’s. While new and unfamiliar names will now sprint across Ludwig Field, the 2010 season and upcoming 2011 will have one thing in common: it’s going to be a fun ride.