After a shocking early exit from the Big Ten tournament at the start of November, the Maryland men’s soccer still has more soccer to be played. Long Island University will make the trip down from Brooklyn to face a rejuvenated Terps side and kickoff the Terps NCAA tournament.
The Terps, who were hit with a crushing loss in penalties to Northwestern, were bound to have lost some spirit and exuberance. But after 28 years of coaching and seeing plenty of upsets, head coach Sasho Cirovski knows what a buoyant team looks like. And ahead of the Terps opening matchup, Cirovski believes his team spirit is back in the clubhouse.
“I think the players are re-energized. We’ve met with the leadership council and our team, and you can just see the energy and the enthusiasm and excitement being back. They’ve got their legs back,” Cirovski said.
The No. 12 Terps have stayed true to the statement “there’s no place like home” throughout the regular season. They made Ludwig Field a fortress, losing once and dropping only two of a potential 27 points at home.
The Sharks of Long Island University will pose a different challenge from the ones Maryland is used to. LIU finished atop the Northeastern Conference, finishing ahead of St. Francis Brooklyn with its overall winning percentage. The Sharks also won the NEC tournament on Sunday, clinching their date at Ludwig. Cirovski knows that the Sharks earned their spot to play against his team.
“They’re a physically tough team, they’re a technically good team, and I think they’re gonna be a tough challenge,” Cirovski said.
Seniors and co-captains Nick Richardson and Brett St. Martin have spearheaded the leadership group of the team throughout the season. Richardson has preached the same message that has been there since the preseason.
“Sasho emphasized how hard it is and how much we have to work to get to the point we have to,” Richardson said.
Richardson, like every player on this team, has expressed his excitement for a night game at Ludwig.
“I’m very excited. I feel like the lights pop a little more now as it gets a bit darker earlier. So I’m hoping to see the lights flashing a lot, I hope to hear a loud Crew, and I’m kind of just getting jitters thinking about it now,” said the senior full back.
Richardson will lead the Terps under the lights against LIU on Thursday night at 7pm.