For Terps, quarterfinals are still a long way away UM, which tries again tomorrow, was there in '69

November 28, 1998|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Maryland men's soccer coach Sasho Cirovski prefers not to deliver a history lecture to his Terrapins.

Yet when Maryland made its last trip to the NCAA quarterfinals, U.S. troops were in Vietnam, Johnny Unitas still quarterbacked the Colts and Cirovski was a 6-year-old living in a rural village in Macedonia. That's right, you have to flip back to 1969 and the days of coach Doyle Royal for the Terps' last appearance in the Elite Eight.

Now flash ahead three decades. Maryland has advanced to four Sweet 16s and ended up with four heartbreaking defeats.

Tomorrow, Maryland (14-7) will attempt to end a 29-year absence from the quarterfinals as well as wipe away some recent bitter memories when it plays host to Jacksonville (19-4) in an NCAA tournament second-round game at Ludwig Field (1 p.m.). The Terps have made the round of 16 for a nation-best fifth straight year, but their previous four showings resulted in losses by a combined five goals.

"Just as you mature as a person, you mature as a program," said Cirovski, who has resurrected a once-proud Maryland program with 71 victories over the past five years. "We draw positives out of all of those experiences. You build players and only become hungrier."

Take your pick of Maryland's second-round disappointments.

In 1994, the Terps lost by a goal to eventual national champion Virginia. A year later, Maryland fell to James Madison on penalty kicks.

Then there was the home game against William and Mary in 1996, when the Terps ran into hot goalkeeping and soggy field conditions, losing 3-0.

But perhaps the most painful memory is from last year, when American's Scott Weber scored the game's only goal with 7: 48 remaining to eliminate the winningest team in Terps history.

"To be honest with you, as far as the past goes, I'm not really concerned about that," said Maryland midfielder Keith Beach, a three-year starter. "The past is in the past, you can't change that now. So move on."

This time, however, Maryland finds itself in a unique predictament as the overwhelming favorite against Jacksonville, a high-scoring team which upset third-seeded Duke in the 41-year-old program's first NCAA tournament appearance.

And history might be favoring Maryland as well. The Terps haven't faced a school from the Sunshine State in the NCAA tournament since 1969, when they beat South Florida in Maryland's last second-round victory.

"It is pretty special for me to say my team has advanced to the Sweet 16 five consecutive years," Cirovski said. "However, we will not accept just making it to the first and second rounds. We need to go further."

Bittersweet 16? Maryland is making its fifth consecutive NCAA second-round appearance -- the nation's best current streak -- but has failed to advance past the round of 16 each time. A look at the Terrapins' previous four second-round defeats:

Yr. .. .. Opponent .. .. .. .. Result

'94 .. .. at Virginia .. .. .. L, 2-1

'95 .. .. at James Madison ... L, 2-2-x

'96 .. .. vs. Wm. & Mary .. .. L, 3-0

'97 .. .. at American .. .. .. L, 1-0

x--James Madison advances on penalty kicks, 4-3

Pub Date: 11/28/98

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