Maryland begins ACC soccer title defense Friday

Terps play winner of game between UNC, N.C. State

November 12, 2003|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The University of Maryland will carry a top seeding and a bit of wounded pride when it launches defense of its Atlantic Coast Conference men's soccer championship Friday in Cary, N.C.

Maryland drew a first-round bye in the seven-team field and will meet the survivor of today's match between fifth-seeded North Carolina State and fourth-seeded North Carolina in the semifinals.

The eighth-ranked Tar Heels (12-3-3) are one of two teams to defeat the Terrapins this season, taking a 1-0 decision in Chapel Hill, N.C., on Oct. 5. No. 2 seed Wake Forest plays No. 7 Duke and No. 3 Virginia faces No. 6 Clemson in today's other quarterfinals.

It was the second loss -- a shocking 1-0 verdict against Bucknell last week in College Park -- that stung the Terps, who have been No. 1 or No. 2 all season in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America rankings. Despite that reversal, Maryland (16-2) remained tied for second with Wake Forest in this week's poll.

The Terps' Sasho Cirovski, who was named ACC Coach of the Year yesterday, said the upset loss might benefit his team, which made the NCAA Division I Final Four last year.

"I think it will help us a lot in our mental approach," Cirovski said. "Actually, it was very timely. It gave us a great dose of humility that will serve us very well. I'm very confident we're in a good position."

Only UCLA, which ousted the Terps in the 2002 NCAA semifinals, has a lone defeat among the top contenders. That was administered by Maryland in its home opener.

Maryland forward Abe Thompson, last season's tournament Most Valuable Player, is questionable for the tournament. Thompson, who scored all the goals in a 3-0 title-game win over Virginia, has been hampered all season by a foot ailment and has missed five weeks.

In his stead, Jason Garey became the team's scoring leader with nine goals and three assists.

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