When Brian Bichy, Ed McCue and Mark Sullivan were Towson State freshmen in 1988, one of their introductions to college soccer was a 7-0 spanking administered by Maryland.
Three years isn't too long to get revenge. The veterans got theirs yesterday, when a 3-2 victory over the Terps in the rain and mud at Towson State displayed the progress the Tigers have made and the hard times that have hit Maryland.
Towson State is 5-1-1 overall and in search of its third straight East Coast Conference title for coach Frank Olszewski. The Tigers would be unbeaten had Joe Layfield converted a penalty kick in last Saturday's 1-0 loss at Drexel, but all was forgiven yesterday, as Layfield got the Tigers' first two goals and assisted freshman Ryan Burke on the game-winner.
Maryland dropped to 0-4-2, and the Terps are going to find much bigger roadblocks in the Atlantic Coast Conference, where the other six soccer-playing members are ranked between Nos. 3 and 13 in one national poll this week. Maryland faces the prospect of a losing record and a finish in the ACC cellar, non-distinctions that last occurred in 1984, the year before Alden Shattuck took over as Maryland coach.
1984 was also the last time the Terps were beaten by Towson State. Sullivan, a senior defender from Bowie, kept a level perspective about the turnaround.
"When I came here, I really thought the program was improving," Sullivan said. "That 7-0 loss to Maryland was a setback, a humiliating experience. Yes, you could call today sweet revenge.
"A lot of freshmen are unaware of the significance of beating an ACC team, and that's something to be proud of. At the same time, we have to temper that with the realization that they [the Terps] have problems. Beating Maryland is nice, but it isn't the be-all and end-all of our season."
Maryland actually made progress, since the only goal in its first five games had been a late penalty kick that earned a 1-1 tie at Loyola Sept. 11. The Terps had leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but could preserve neither, even with Carmine Isaaco in the goal. A first-team All-ACC choice last year who hopes to play for the Canadian Olympic team next year, Isaaco's frustration and goals-against average rose yesterday, the latter to 2.17.
"Isaaco's frustrated, and I would be too," said Shattuck, who for the first time in his seven seasons at Maryland lost to an in-state foe. "We gave up some soft goals."
Isaaco had eight saves, the best keeping it a one-goal game with 10 minutes left, when he deflected McCue's point-blank attempt with his right leg.
Maryland scored twice in the first 12 minutes, sophomore defender Shawn Long setting up freshman Paul Jacobs and then Jeff Stroud, but the Terps' inexperience in the back was continuously exposed by Layfield.
The ECC Player of the Year in 1990, Layfield fought off Long and beat Isaaco one-on-one to tie it at 1. With seven minutes left in the half, he tied it again after dribbling through several defenders. With 11:11 gone in the second half, he dribbled into the right corner and crossed to Burke, a freshman back from Oakland Mills who volleyed in the second game-winning goal of his brief college career.
"That second goal was one of the best I've ever scored," Layfield said of the 14th goal he has scored in three seasons with the Tigers. "Two, three times, I was ready to unload, and each time Maryland had another guy there. It's easy to juke guys on a muddy field."
In other games involving area teams yesterday, Loyola also enjoyed its most significant success of the season, a 2-0 victory at George Washington, ranked No. 4 in the South Atlantic. Rob Elliott assisted Vince Moskunas, then scored his first goal of the year.