One of the benefits of earning a seed in the NCAA men’s soccer tournament is a first-round bye. So while 32 teams battle in Thursday’s first round, the other 16 teams can sit back and rest.
It is a reward that No. 5 seed Maryland (13-3-5) intends to take full advantage of. After defeating Boston College, Clemson and Virginia in a span of six days to capture their second straight Atlantic Coast Conference tournament championship and their third in the last five years, the Terps are looking forward to replenishing their energy reserves and getting ready for Sunday’s second-round game against either Providence (12-5-3) or Pennsylvania (8-8-1).
“That’s one of the real benefits of getting a top 16 seed,” coach Sasho Cirovski said Monday. “You get to recover, especially if you played deep in a conference tournament like we’ve done in many years. You really need it. You really need a few days off for just pure recovery before you can have a meaningful practice. So we’re delighted that we don’t play until Sunday, and it will give us the right balance of preparation and recovery, and we’ll be ready to go on Sunday.”
The seven-day break is the second longest of the season for Maryland, and perhaps no one will benefit more from the layoff than Schillo Tshuma. The sophomore forward ranks second on the team in both goals (six) and points (13), but suffered what Cirovski called a muscle injury in the second half of Friday’s 1-0 overtime win against Clemson that prevented him from playing in Sunday’s 1-0 victory over Virginia.
“We’re hopeful, but we’re not going to know for a few more days,” Cirovski said of Tshuma’s availability. “I haven’t seen him yet [Monday]. … But we’re hopeful that he’s ready to go by Sunday.”