By: Joe Atmonavage - Maryland Media Relations Assistant
Soccer fans are often noted for their exhilarating passion and enthusiasm. At Maryland it is no different.
The Crew, Maryland men’s soccer fan group, is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2013 and began the festivities in bold fashion. The newest Terps of the Week packed Ludwig Field for a new attendance record of 8,397 as Maryland defeated rival Duke 3-1 on Sept. 6.
The Crew’s history spans a decade and began after a gut wrenching loss to UCLA in the Final Four in 2002. After the loss, head coach Sasho Cirovski had a dream to make Ludwig Field the most fan-friendly venue in all of college soccer. To start, he decided to put bleachers at both endzones and restricted them to students.
Maryland welcomed UCLA for the opener in 2003 and The Crew has grown bigger and better with every passing season.
The night before the Duke game, the dedication of The Crew was on full display. Coaches and players handed out 1,800 free scarves to their loyal fan group after the last practice before the Duke game.
“I never could have imagined this many people coming out the night before a game,” said Crew President Dillon French. “It just shows that there is so much excitement and there’s so many people aware that this is going on. It’s perfect. I love it. In 2003, when everything started, it was pretty small and then today we have over 1,800 kids show up for a free scarf. Every generation it gets a little bit bigger and a little bit better and that’s the goal.”
For the Duke game, The Crew was in full effect. They lined up for hours anticipating the season opener. The fans were in mid-season form with their original chants and high intensity giving Maryland an immense home-field advantage.
“I didn’t want the game to end. The fans, this atmosphere, that is what makes this a dream place to play,” senior forward Patrick Mullins said.
On top of the nearly 8,400 fans inside the Ludwig gates, a couple hundred students were denied entrance into the game because of how quickly The Crew filled up both endzone bleachers. Many watched from the fences and continued chants outside of Ludwig Field.
After Duke took a 1-0 lead heading into halftime, The Crew, as always, continued their support. The Terps rallied for three quick goals in the second half sending The Crew into frenzy.
The smile on Cirovski’s face was unmistakable. Not only was the coach – who is in his 21st season at Maryland – happy with his team’s result, he couldn’t have been more pleased with one of his proudest creations – The Crew.
“It was one of the great, magical nights in Maryland soccer history,” Cirovski said. “The support by the student body and all of the Maryland soccer community was just amazing. It’s humbling and to see it continue to grow is a source of pride.”