Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski has issued a warning: "We're a lot better than some people think out there right now." He likes the progress his young team has made in recent weeks. The Terrapins, 3-4-1 at one point in the season, have quietly run off an eight-game unbeaten streak and slipped this week to the Soccer America Men's Top 25 at No. 21.
Maryland quietly slipped this week to the Soccer America Men's Top 25 at No. 21 after falling out of the rankings five weeks ago.
The Terrapins, national champions in 2005, had gotten off to a slow start this fall, feeling the effects of losing underclassmen Maurice Edu and Chris Seitz to MLS, where they have parlayed strong rookie seasons into callups with the U.S. national team.
Maryland got off to a 3-4-1 season and fell out of the Soccer America weekly rankings before returning this week after its 5-0 win over N.C. State on Saturday. The win extended Maryland's unbeaten streak to eight games -- the second longest in the ACC after Virginia Tech's 13-game unbeaten streak.
Freshman Rodney Wallace, who struck twice against State, has triggered the surge with six goals in his last seven games. Maryland fans will hope Graham Zusi has broken out of a season-long slump. He also scored against the Wolfpack for his first goal since the second game of the season.
The Terrapins were playing without starters Jeremy Halland Richie Costanzo. Hall was out with an ankle sprain, while Constanzo was suspended by Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski for his role in a fight in Maryland's recent game against Cal State Northridge that saw three players sent off.
"It's a very good win," Cirovskisaid after the State game. "We keep building momentum. I thought the team was very energetic tonight and we had a lot of contributions from a lot of different people. I was delighted to see Graham get back on the board because he has been so close so many times. It was a breakthrough for him."
Cirovski liked what he saw from his young team that included five freshmen and five sophomores in action against N.C. State.
"We're making progress," he added. "We're a lot better than some people think out there right now, but now it's time to get ready for the next one."
The Terps are back in action Saturday when they host Virginia.
It will be a big game for both teams. Virginia fell to seventh place, one point behind Maryland, in the ACC when it lost to Duke, 2-1, on Friday night.