When Sasho Cirovski walked onto Maryland's campus in 1993 as the new men's soccer coach, he took one look at some of the antiquated facilities and said, "We're going to build a national championship program."
Since making that bold statement, the ninth-ranked Terps have won two NCAA titles, advanced to six College Cups and brought home four ACC championships. Cirovski, however, is still expanding his vision as he opens his 20th season Sunday against No. 12 Louisville.
Cirovski has set a new goal for a state-of-the-art, soccer-specific stadium, seating 8,000 to10,000 on campus, within the next five years. The stadium would likely have to use privately financed funds because of budget restraints with the university system.
"I'm going to put a lot of effort into that," said Cirovski, who is 284-115-26 at Maryland. "When I set my mind to something, I think you'll see a new stadium within five years. We're going to find a way. We have a lot of people who see that same vision now. When I said we're going to put college soccer on TV, I didn't accept 'no' for an answer. When I said we're going to win a national title, I didn't accept 'no' for an answer. And now, I'm going to consider [the new stadium] as big an achievement as any I've done in my career here. "
When asked, what type of dynamic would a new soccer stadium bring to Maryland athletics, especially if it can be privately financed, Maryland athletic director Kevin Anderson said, "We are looking to continue to expand and grow in all aspects of our athletic programs. Sasho has a rich history with our program and we eventually hope to get there."
"Sasho has built the Maryland men's soccer program into one of the nation's elite," Anderson added. "He is one of our senior coaching leaders at Maryland and his passion and commitment to our soccer program and athletic department is outstanding."
With the return of eight starters, Cirovski could be on his way to another milestone as the Terps are primed for another championship run. The team has bought into Cirovski's philosophy and players understand they wear a bull's-eye on their jersey because of the program's success. Maryland was picked to win the ACC in the preseason coaches' poll.
"He's very intense and gets the most out of each player," said junior forward Patrick Mullins. "I've always enjoyed playing for him."
The Terps also understand the program has served as a pipeline to the professional ranks. Maryland has sent 44 players to Major League Soccer, including two No. 1 draft selections in Leo Cullen (1998) and Maurice Edu (2006).
"Sash is an intense guy and knows how to get the most out of his players," said Taylor Kemp, a preseason All-American. "I think it's made all of us better. I know I pushed myself more than I thought I could under him. "
Cirovski helped revamp the Terps' home turf, Ludwig Field, into one of the most well-attended and intimidating places for opponents to play. Now, he is ready to elevate the program further. He has a photo of Creighton's 6,000-seat, $13 million soccer stadium on the back of his office door. Even though that nine-year-old stadium serves as a solid model, Cirovski wants to build something even better.
"I have big dreams and big visions," Cirovski said. "The time is now to focus on that big vision. We've built a brand on this campus and community. We've shown we need to upgrade."
The immediate plan, however, is another ACC and NCAA championship. Cirovski likes the depth of this year's team.
"We've won two, but I think we should have won more," Cirovski said. "I really felt like my second 10 years was going to be better than my first 10 years and it has. As we get into the next decade, I still think we can bring a lot more hardware and pride back to ths campus."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun