For 'other' Terps, year for books Men's, women's soccer, volleyball on record runs

November 23, 1996|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER


It's that unique and rare group of players who capture league titles, establish team benchmarks and make their own chapter in school history.

And at Maryland, the erasers have been busy on its record books this fall.

This year's men's soccer, women's soccer and volleyball teams have established themselves as some of the best Terrapins teams in their sports.

Look at their major team accomplishments: the first Atlantic Coast Conference men's soccer tournament championship; the school-best 18 victories by the women's soccer team; and the first ACC regular-season volleyball title.

These teams look to add to their record-setting seasons this weekend. The soccer teams play host to the NCAA tournament and the top-seeded volleyball team heads to Atlanta for the conference tournament.

Despite their spectacular years, all three had their doubters.

The men's soccer team, which was ranked in the top five in almost every preseason publication, started out 4-4-2.

"We knew we weren't as bad as our record," coach Sasho Cirovski said. "We came up with the slogan: 'one game, one goal and 90 minutes of passion.' If we focused and concentrated for a full 90 minutes, we could be a very, very good team."

The label has since changed to one of the most dangerous teams in the NCAA tournament. The Terps finished the year on a 9-1-1 roll, including a defeat of top-ranked Virginia in the league title game.

Besides the first ACC title for Maryland men's soccer in 25 years, that game also signified the first time since 1989 that Maryland advanced past the first round of the league tournament.

The Terps head into a matchup with James Madison today and have set their sights on becoming the first Maryland team to advance past the NCAA first round in three straight seasons.

"I think we are just finding our identity," said forward Shane Dougherty of Fallston, who has 21 career assists, five shy of the 32-year-old school mark.

In women's soccer, coach April Heinrichs left after a six-year stint and just a season after taking Maryland to its first NCAA tournament. Enter Alan Kirkup, who guided Southern Methodist to the Final Four last year.

"With a new coach, there were some doubts out there that we wouldn't mesh or be as good as last year," said defender Erin Taylor, the first Maryland women's soccer player to be named ACC Player of the Year. "But we came together really well and adjusted."

With Taylor taking care of the defense, sophomore Emmy Harbo racked up the goals. She has 21 goals this season and 34 for her career, both school records.

Thanks to this balance, Maryland rose to a program-best No. 4 in the country. But a late-season skid made the Terps a nonseed in the NCAA tournament.

However, No. 7 Texas A&M was upset by San Diego in the first round, giving Maryland a home game against the Toreros in the second round tomorrow.

"Being good is a bonus, but having luck really helps in the tournament," Kirkup said.

The volleyball team started out the season picked to finish third in the ACC by league coaches. Maryland showed that the conference underestimated it by capturing its first ACC regular-season title.

The Terps won all 16 conference matches -- an ACC record, taking the title by a five-match margin over second-place Georgia Tech.

"Their only goal was to go undefeated at home," coach Janice Kruger said. "But I think the other coaches didn't know what I knew. I knew this team was going to be good because they came in in the best shape of any team I've ever coached."

With its standout regular season, Maryland is virtually assured of its third NCAA tournament bid and first back-to-back appearances in school history. But getting there isn't where the goal ends.

"Last year, we were so close to making the Sweet 16," said xTC senior hitter Shannon Saltzman of Ellicott City. "And we're hungry for that again because we've done so much more already than last year."

Pub Date: 11/23/96

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