UM, Towson take 2 paths to Sweet 16

College SOCCER

November 18, 2006|By Paul McMullen | Paul McMullen,Sun reporter

Two state teams have gotten to the round of 16 in the NCAA men's soccer tournament with paradoxically different rosters.

Towson coach Frank Olszewski, who grew up in Dundalk, has all-league players from Canada and Germany, and reserves from Bermuda and Mexico.

Maryland's Sasho Cirovski, who emigrated from what was Yugoslavia to Canada as a boy, has not used a single player from a foreign country this season.

The Terps have one of the nation's premier programs, a brand recognized by the schoolboys who relocate to Florida for the U.S. Under-17 Residency Program. While Cirovski has a half-dozen players with U.S. national team backgrounds, Olszewski has never landed a recruit of that caliber.

"We have gotten players with international experience - if you count other countries," Olszewski said. "We're going to recruit the best Americans we can, but we just can't stop by the residency program and pick who we want. There are only so many of those kids to go around. We're looking to compete with Wake Forest and Maryland, beat those guys. In order to do that, we've got to get guys at a certain level. We're going to look under any rock."

Forward Sebastian Haensel, who's from Germany, and defender Nigel Marples, a Canadian, joined Calvert Hall grad Pat Healey as Towson's representatives on the All-Colonial Athletic Association team. Maryland put two Californians on the All-Atlantic Coast Conference team, a New Jersey player on the second team, and players from California, Florida and Illinois on the All-ACC freshman team.

"We're able to recruit the very best players in the U.S.," Cirovski said last month. "To me, American players are more of a sure bet. The foreigners, most of them cost you a lot of money and there's a lot of risk in transition. The reality is, in this age, our [American] players are as good as many of the best players in the world. That formula has worked for us."

The Terps took a roster hit in August, when Robbie Rogers passed on his last three years of eligibility to sign with a professional club in the Netherlands. Cirovski encouraged Rogers to take the deal, and shrugged off his departure like a basketball coach who gets a year out of an NBA lottery pick.

In his absence, two Terps junior midfielders have emerged as semifinalists for the Hermann Trophy, college soccer's answer to the Heisman Trophy. Maurice Edu was a McDonald's All-American in California, and Stephen King was a Parade All-American in New Jersey.

While Haensel has been involved in a team-leading 15 goals - with seven goals and eight assists - the one that iced Towson's 2-0 win over Fairfield on Wednesday showed that the Tigers are very much reliant upon local ties. Healey assisted Nino Mangione, another Calvert Hall alumnus. Their fathers were teammates on the Loyola College team that is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its 1976 NCAA Division II championship.

Sophomores from area high schools contrast the roster dynamics between the Tigers and the Terps.

Matt Beckman, who has yet to start a game for Maryland, starred for McDonogh School and helped the Casa Mia Bays win national age-group titles. When he was winning The Sun's Player of the Year honor in 2004, Rob Nwosu was taking a redshirt year at Towson. An All-Anne Arundel County player for Glen Burnie High, Nwosu just needed some seasoning to become a mainstay at right back.

"Nwosu is an excellent athlete with fantastic potential, but he didn't have a lot of high-level club competition under his belt," Olszewski said. "He's gotten a lot of on-the-job training. We might have to wait, like a baker, for a player like that to rise. The kids from the national team are close to being finished products. Success is going to happen earlier for them."

Even if the best season in Towson history comes to an end at second-seeded Wake Forest tomorrow, Olszewski knows that residual benefits await.

"I got 25 e-mails from high school players today, and only two of them are from in-state," Olszewski said Thursday. "All of them are new contacts, kids who had never shown an interest in us before."

paul.mcmullen@baltsun.com

Tonight's game

Matchup -- Notre Dame (14-5-2) at Maryland (16-4-1) in NCAA Division I men's soccer tournament third-round game

Where -- Ludwig Field, College Park

Time -- 6

Outlook -- This will be the second meeting between the teams, with Maryland winning the first matchup, 1-0, in the 2001 tournament. The 12th-seeded Irish got to their second straight Sweet 16 appearance behind the nation's leading goal-scorer, Joseph Lapira, who recorded his 21st goal in a 1-0, second-round win over Illinois-Chicago. The fifth-seeded Terps outshot St. John's 17-6 in a 2-0 victory Wednesday. Jeremy Hall scored in the first half, ending the Red Storm's 674-minute shutout streak, and Graham Zusi also scored for the Terps.

Christian Ewell

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