The state's collegiate soccer season will begin this week, and among the Division I teams, Loyola and Towson State appear to be in command once again. The others are in unsettled situations, with too little experience or too much schedule, at least for the early games.
One of the factors for NCAA tournament selection is strength of schedule, and September could be critical for Loyola and Towson State. This fall will mark the first time the two have not met in more than 35 years.
Despite going 16-2-5 (1-1-1 against eventual NCAA tournament teams), Loyola did not receive a bid last season, and, in strengthening the schedule, the Greyhounds could not find room for Towson State. In its past 10 meetings with the Tigers, Loyola has gone 9-0-1.
"Our early scheduling philosophy hasn't changed, as we always try to play the best teams at the beginning of the season," said Loyola coach Bill Sento, who enters his 12th season seeking an 11th consecutive winning season. His team will begin a 20-game schedule today at George Mason. The Patriots hold a 3-0-1 lead on the Greyhounds since losing in the 1986 NCAA tournament.
Seven starters return for the Greyhounds, headed by defenders and co-captains Tom Donahue and Vince Moskunas (out four to six weeks with a knee injury). Junior Rob Elliott (14 goals, 12 assists) and senior Sean Nolan head the offense, senior Mark Hopper and sophomore Billy Harte are back in the middle and Shawn Boehmcke is a two-year starter in goal with 18 shutouts and 15 goals allowed in 34 games.
At Towson State, 10-year coach Frank Olszewski returns eight starters, including four All-East Coast Conference selections, from a team that went 12-6-2 and shared the ECC title with Drexel.
Among the veterans are seniors Joe Layfield and Ed McCue, the team's top two scorers a year ago. Juniors Ricky Bush and Brian Bichy are holdovers in the midfield, and the defense should be the strength of the unit with regulars Mark Sullivan, Frank Assaro and Lance Johnson in front of keeper Rich Pellegrini, who allowed 15 goals in 19 games and tied the school record for shutouts with seven.
The newest thing about the University of Maryland Baltimore County is its coach, Pete Caringi, although he has accomplished more in the past decade than most coaches do in a lifetime. He guided Essex Community College to the National Junior College tournament five of the past six seasons, and a year ago directed the Maryland Bays to the American Professional Soccer League title.
He had a chance to see his new team during spring drills, and a former Essex CC player should be one of his leaders. Senior Jason Dieter, a former JuCo All-American and an All-ECC choice last year, was the leading scorer in 1990 with nine goals and nine assists.
Among other holdovers are sweeper Darius Taylor, midfielder Robert Diver and goalkeepers Robert Mamula and Dan McDonough, who shared duties in an 11-9 season, including four straight wins at the end of the year.
The top newcomers are Tim Ryerson, a transfer from Nevada-Las Vegas, freshman redshirt Robert Hoch and JuCo All-American Terry Locklear, from Essex CC.
The University of Maryland and Naval Academy have some question marks. Maryland returns five starters from a 10-8-1 team, including team captain and top defender Jeff Ulehla (Calvert Hall) in front of keeper Carmine Isaaco (six shutouts). Senior Paul Boardman, a 12-goal scorer last season, left the team last week, and now the chief holdover scorer is Jeff Stroud (one goal).
For Navy (9-10-2), where there are 10 returnees, the expected leaders are juniors Cliff Carpenter (offense) and Jono Halverson.
Mount St. Mary's (12-5-3) has four holdover starters from the second-winningest team in program history -- defenders Mike Ernst, Pat Gannon, Greg Goles and midfielder Karl Taverner. With two seniors and two juniors, 36-year coach Jim Deegan is looking at a rebuilding season. The second season for the University of Maryland Eastern Shore figures to be better than the first (2-11-1), with veterans B.J. Strin on offense and team most valuable player Jonathan Lindsay on defense.
Among the Division III schools, Johns Hopkins (11-4-2) has six holdover starters, including goalkeeper Jerry Irvine and defender Mike Van de Kieft, but among the losses were four of the top five scorers. Frostburg State (14-5-1) has its top point-scorers from last season -- Derek Woodward, Mark Urban and Rocky Reed -- and goalkeeper Pete Tytus, who saw backup duty in 10 games.
Goucher is in its third season and will continue to be relatively inexperienced, but the 27 candidates are double the number of a year ago. Forward Joe Hartman is the chief returnee, and two of last year's prep stars, Steve Montgomery (Northeast) and Curt Mykut (Frederick) should provide help.