Year in Review: Maryland
Lost in quarterfinals to Virginia in overtime.
*NB years are for 2009; when no year is mentioned, the player was a senior this past year.
MVP: Joe Cinosky. Not only the team's best defender, but he and midfielder Will Dalton were the primary enforcers of the team's new drinking policy, which was much stricter than in past years. (Essentially it did not allow for drinking during the week.)
The policy was enacted to make sure that practices were better and that the team was more focused. It clearly worked: the Terrapins overachieved for much of the year.
I really hope someone takes the reins on this policy and keeps it going. Maybe junior Brian Farrell is the guy? His emotional reaction to the loss to Virginia was noticeable; also, he has strong ties to the program through his father, a former UMd player.
It is no coincidence that the first Virginia team to win a title in 27 years (in 1999) did so with a similar policy about off-field behavior. Maryland has a similar title drought; it last won in 1975. You get where I'm going with this.
What They'll Miss the Most: I thought crease defenseman Jacob Baxter was tremendous in the second half of the season. He worked his way into the starting lineup because he was a good communicator, and his work on the crease was particularly strong in the first-round win over Denver.
Most Unusual Stat: Junior goalkeeper Brian Phipps made 17 saves and gave up one goal in a victory over Pennsylvania and then did not start the next game.
What They Need in 2009: To play with the same emotion. Almost every coach who faced Maryland noted afterward how hard it played and how much the Maryland players, especially the guys on the sideline, were rooting.
Not easy things, especially on a team that started four freshmen and played six extensively. That's a lot of upperclassmen who put the team before their own playing time.
Reason to Be Cheerful: The starting attack is back, as are several top midfielders, two goalies and Farrell.
Reason to Be Fearful: Maryland's slot in the sport's landscape could change depending on who is hired at North Carolina. UNC may not be a sleeping giant, but at the very least it is an awfully large bloke who is taking a nap. (To borrow a phrase from When Saturday Comes, the excellent English soccer fanzine.)
With the right hire, UNC could be back in the top five in no time.
Maryland has caught a break by having so many talented players who also are the sons of former players (Phipps, Farrell and sophomore attackman Travis Reed).
Their window to end the title drought that dates from 1975 won't get much better than in the next two or three years, especially if North Carolina becomes rejuvinated.
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Posted by: Juan-John | June 2, 2008 4:45 PM
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