The Maryland men’s soccer program will appear in its 13th overall College Cup and eighth in coach Sasho Cirovski’s tenure, and as a reward, the team will tangle with Virginia for the third time this season on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.
The Atlantic Coast Conference rivals drew to a 3-3 tie in their first meeting on Oct. 11 before the Terps (16-3-5) scored a 1-0 decision over the Cavaliers in the ACC tournament final on Nov. 17.
Maryland has faced an opponent three times in one year twice in the last five autumns. The 2008 squad swept North Carolina, including a 1-0 win in the NCAA tournament championship final.
A year later, the Terps posted a scoreless tie with Virginia before losing to the Cavaliers in the ACC and NCAA tournaments.
So dealing with Virginia (13-5-5) for a third time this season isn’t bothersome or worrisome to Cirovski.
“We’re used to it,” he said Monday. “We know that when you play a lot of good teams in your schedule in the regular season, there’s a good chance you’re going to see them a second or a third time. It just so happens that it’s Virginia’s third time. But there will be no surprises in this game. We know each other very well, and this is one of the great marquee matchups that the College Cup could have hoped for. I think this is the best rivalry in college soccer, and the fact that both teams are fairly close to PPL Park should make it a great Friday night.”
Cirovski said No. 5 seed Maryland’s familiarity with the No. 8 seed Cavaliers and vice versa should make for a simple week of preparation for both sides.
“It’s going to come down to execution,” he said. “I don’t think either team will spend too much time on scouting this week.”
The Terps own a 39-29-9 advantage in their series with Virginia, which dates back to 1941. But Maryland’s most recent victory for the ACC tournament title still stings Cavaliers freshman midfielder Jordan Allen, who told NBC29 (WVIR-TV), “After we lost in the ACC championship, a lot of the senior guys, they were kind of down. They thought maybe it was their last shot at it, so a lot of us are trying to do it for them.”
Asked if he was concerned that Virginia might use that loss as motivation for Friday night’s NCAA semifinal, Cirovski said, “I’m not going to speak on what they have to do, but we’re playing motivated. This was the place where we have a bitter taste from last year [losing to Georgetown on penalty kicks], and we’re looking forward to having another chance this year.”