Terps enjoy new role as winners

November 19, 1994|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Contributing Writer

COLLEGE PARK -- For Malcolm Gillian, miracles can happen.

Before he came to Maryland, Gillian had won two state titles at Oakland Mills and never had played for a team with a losing record since the age of 5. But in his first three years at Maryland, the Terps went 13-35-5.

So he decided to devote his senior year to being a leader in the rebuilding of the Terps, who have 12 underclassmen on the roster. But Maryland skipped the rebuilding phase and became a contender.

The No. 24 Terps (13-5-1) play at ninth-ranked Georgetown (18-3) at 1 p.m. today in the first round of the NCAA tournament. It is Maryland's first NCAA appearance since 1986.

"It's almost miraculous," said Gillian, a 5-foot-8 forward who is third on the Terps in scoring with eight goals and seven assists. "After my freshman and sophomore years, I didn't see any hopes of ever making the tournament. I questioned whether I wanted to play soccer anymore. It was really apathetic around here at that time."

Then coach Sasho Cirovski arrived.

The Terps went 3-14-1 his first year, but have turned around. Cirovski has directed the Terps to their first winning record and national ranking in four seasons.

Maryland has defeated its past four ranked opponents and won five of its past seven games. The Terps put together that streak without first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference selection Tod Herskovitz, who suffered a season-ending knee injury on Oct. 19.

"I don't put time tables on anything," said Cirovski, 31, who coached the University of Hartford to the NCAA tournament in 1991 and 1992. "I came here and wanted to develop a winning attitude. We planted those seeds last year even though we weren't winning."

The Terps won seven of their first nine games to gain a No. 15 national ranking. A day after getting ranked, Maryland lost to Mount St. Mary's, 1-0.

"They didn't know how to handle success," Cirovski said. "It was the first time they ever had a winning record, much less a #F ranking. The kids had a hard time dealing with it."

Maryland now faces another new experience in its first trip to the NCAA tournament in eight years and must produce in one of the most hostile environments in college soccer. Georgetown has expanded its seating capacity to 3,700 at Harbin Field for its boisterous fans, who are known for such noisemakers as banging pots and pans with spoons.

"We've learned from the Mount St. Mary's game," Gillian said. "I know everyone will be excited, but we also know it's a one-game

season now."

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