While Maryland finds itself in the unfamiliar position of not earning a seed in this year's NCAA Division I men's soccer tournament, the Terps host a familiar foe, Loyola, tonight at 7 in the first round.
Maryland is the defending national champion, and is appearing in its ninth consecutive NCAA tournament. The Greyhounds advanced to a school-record third consecutive Division I tournament by winning the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship. The winner will advance to play seeded No. 7 Penn State.
"They are much more experienced than we are," Loyola coach Mark Mettrick said. "When you look at them, the style of Maryland soccer is very fast-paced. They pressure you very aggressively to try and create turnovers. We are going to have to adjust to their speed and athleticism. If we get a result, it would definitely be a giant-killing."
The Terps (12-5-2) and Greyhounds have not played since the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2007, which ended scoreless. The Terps advanced 4-2 on penalty kicks. Loyola still has seven players on its roster that played in that game, including forward Phil Bannister who narrowly missed winning the game in overtime.
Loyola (11-7-3) will be without leading scorer Jamie Darvill, who is out with a hamstring injury. However, the Greyhounds have lost only once in their past 11 games. Goalie Kyle Wittman (Calvert Hall) has nine shutouts and has played 509:28 of scoreless soccer.
Despite being underdogs, the Greyhounds have proven they can win in College Park. While Maryland leads the all-time series, 25-8-6, Loyola beat the Terps twice in 2001, including a 1-0 victory in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Since then, Maryland has reinforced itself as one of the marquee programs in the nation, routinely putting together elite recruiting classes.
The Terps being unseeded is a testament to the power of the ACC, which led the nation with seven teams in the tournament. North Carolina, Virginia, Wake Forest and N.C. State each earned seeds and first-round byes. Boston College and Duke will play in the first round. The Terps are led by Jason Herrick who has a team-high eight goals, including six game-winners.