THE WINNINGEST COACH IN MARYLAND SOCCER HISTORY
Upon his arrival in College Park in 1993, Sasho Cirovski has transformed Maryland into a national soccer power, leading the Terps to the 2008 and 2005 NCAA titles, seven College Cup appearances, and five ACC titles, all the while producing numerous top-level professional players. Now entering his 21st season at Maryland, the 2005 NSCAA National Coach of the Year has instilled his passion for excellence in a soccer program that expects to compete for the national title every season.
During his tenure with the Terps, Maryland has been to the NCAA Tournament 18 times, advancing to the Final Four in seven of those years, including four-straight appearances from 2002-05, culminating in the NCAA title in 2005. The Terps have also captured five ACC Tournament titles (1996, 2002, 2008, 2010, and 2012) and two ACC regular season titles (2003, 2005, and 2012) during his stay in College Park.
Maryland put together one of its finest campaigns in 2012, boasting the top winning percentage and scoring offense in the country. The Terps captured the ACC regular season and tournament titles and advanced to the College Cup before bowing out in penalty kicks in the national semifinals. Patrick Mullins was named the MAC Hermann Trophy Winner and all three seniors - Taylor Kemp, John Stertzer, and London Woodberry - all landed in the MLS through either the MLS SuperDraft or homegrown contracts.
The Terps boasted another stellar campaign under the tutelage of Cirovski in 2011. Maryland jumped out to its best start since 1968 with an 11-0-1 record to begin the 2011 season. In that epic span, Cirovski netted career win No. 300 against Radford on Sept. 4. The Terps capped the year 14-4-3 overall and fell to a tough Louisville squad in the Sweet Sixteen. Maryland made its nation-best 10th straight appearance in the third round. Casey Townsend and John Stertzer garnered NSCAA All-American honors and Townsend was subsequently drafted fifth overall by Chivas USA in the MLS SuperDraft. Fellow senior Alex Lee was picked up by FC Dallas in the supplemental draft.
Three Terps were drafted and another two signed MLS Homegrown contracts after a successful 2010 campaign in which the Terps went 19-3-1 and racked up its second ACC title in three seasons. Maryland tied a school-record with 15 shutouts while boasting the top goals for and goals against average nationally. Sporting a youth-laden squad in 2009, Maryland advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth straight year. An unseeded Maryland squad cruised past both Penn State and Harvard on the road to reach the Elite Eight where it eventually fell to national champion Virginia.
In 2008, the Terps established the `Gold Standard', capturing the program's third national title and winning more games (23) than any other squad in program history. The team also set program-bests in shutouts (15) and consecutive wins (16) as well as registering a Ludwig Field-record crowd of 6,500 in Maryland's bout with then-No. 1 Wake Forest. The 2008 season marked the first time in the Cirovski-era that the Terps won both the NCAA Tournament and the ACC Tournament. To top it off, Cirovski eclipsed long-time head coach Doyle Royal to become Maryland men's soccer winningest coach in a win against Duke on Sept. 19.
For the second straight season, Cirovski's Terps had their fair share of critics in the preseason as Maryland lost two of the top players in the nation in 2007. Maurice Edu, a junior midfielder, was the No. 1 overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft on January 12. He was the second Maryland player to ever be taken with the first pick. Sophomore keeper Chris Seitz also decided to turn to the professional ranks and was chosen No. 4 overall in the SuperDraft. It marked just the fourth time in MLS SuperDraft history that two student-athletes from the same school were selected in the top five.
Even with the loss of arguably the best midfielder and goalkeeper in the country, the Terps finished 10-6-5 and earned a seed in the NCAA Tournament for the sixth straight season. Maryland is the only team in the nation that can claim that feat. The Terps advanced to the third round of the championship and was the only squad to do so every year for the past six seasons.
Despite losing six student-athletes from the national championship team in 2005, Cirovski led the Terps back to the NCAA Tournament in 2006, marking the sixth-straight season that Maryland advanced to the postseason. The Terps advanced to the Sweet Sixteen and finished the season with a 16-5-1 record.
The 2005 championship run did not mark the arrival of the Maryland program, but helped validate its place alongside the nation's elite. In addition to a fourth-straight College Cup appearance, the Terps won the ACC regular season title and posted a 19-4-2 mark. In addition, Cirovski helped mentor Maryland's first Hermann Trophy winner in Jason Garey, who left Maryland as the school's all-time leader in goals (60) and points (140) and was the third pick in the MLS SuperDraft. Cirovski was named the ACC Coach of the Year for the second time in his career, and was the NSCAA National Coach of the Year for the first time in his career as the Terps brought home their first national title since 1968.
Under Cirovski's guidance, the Terps have brought fans out to Ludwig Field in record numbers. In 2009, the Terps ranked second nationally in overall attendance and a then program-record crowd of 6,946 watched Maryland trump No. 2 North Carolina. Cirovski's efforts to build a winning team that plays an exciting brand of soccer are only matched by his efforts to build Ludwig Field into one of the top soccer venues in the country.
In addition to his leadership on the sidelines, Cirovski is also a leader as the chairman of the men's soccer NSCAA Division I committee. As chairman, Cirovski was the architect in creating the position of NSCAA Program Director, a major triumph for the sport. This position will be the singular voice of college soccer in dealing with NCAA legislative issues, overseeing College Cups and elevating the significance and status of the sport. He was also vital in brokering the television partnership between Fox Soccer Channel and the NSCAA, guaranteeing a weekly spot for college soccer on television.
"Sasho has not only a vision and a passion to improve and promote college soccer but he has the knowledge and the dedication to pursue new ideas," Creighton head coach Elmar Bolowich said. "His enthusiasm for our sport is infectious and it will unite Division I college coaches to pursue our objectives and achieve them."
Cirovski has brought success to every program he has been a part of. After helping his alma mater, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, to its first NCAA Tournament appearance in a decade as an assistant coach under Bob Gansler, he assumed the top spot at Hartford in 1991. In his two seasons with the Hawks, he took the team to back-to-back 13-6-3 records and consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time in school history. He then came to Maryland in 1993 to help resurrect a once-proud program that had been to only one NCAA Tournament in the last 16 years.
Cirovski has since built Maryland into one of the top programs in the nation and has given the Terps some of the finest seasons in school history. Here is a look at the year-by-year highlights of the Cirovski Era:
1994: In just his second season with the Terps, Maryland went to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and finished with a 14-6-1 record. A 4-3 first-round NCAA win over Georgetown was the program's first since 1969, and marked the first time since 1986 that Maryland received an invitation to the Big Dance. The Terps' improvement from a 3-14-1 record during Cirovski's first year to a 14-6-1 record marked the greatest single-season turnaround in the 44-year history of the ACC.
1995: Maryland again advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Terrapins finished second in the ACC with a 4-1-1 mark, and ended the year ranked as high as No. 15 by Soccer America.
1996: Maryland made history when it won the 1996 ACC Championship, the first-ever tournament championship in the program's history. The Terps again advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament before falling to William & Mary.
1997: After a fourth-place regular-season finish, the Terps again advanced to the ACC championship game before falling to Virginia. Maryland advanced to the NCAA second round for the fourth consecutive season, defeating Rutgers (1-0) in the first round before losing to American, 1-0. The Terps finished 1997 with a record of 16-6-1, a school record for wins in a season, and finished ranked No. 10 in the nation.
1998: Another milestone was reached on Jan. 31, 1998, when Leo Cullen was selected as the No. 1 draft pick by the Miami Fusion in the Major League Soccer collegiate draft. A Hermann and Missouri Athletic Club award finalist in 1996 and 1997, Cullen was also selected as the 1997 ACC Player of the Year, an NSCAA first-team All-American and Collegiate MVP by Soccer America.
1998: Cirovski attracted the nation's top recruiting class to College Park before the 1998 season, and led by National Freshman of the Year Taylor Twellman, and Maryland's all-time career assist leader, Keith Beach, the Terrapins finished the regular season 12-6. The Terps made their fifth straight NCAA tournament run, advancing all the way to their first national semifinal appearance since 1969.
1999: The 1999 season saw Cirovski's team spend two weeks in the No. 1 slot in the Soccer America poll for the first time in school history. The Terps also ended the regular season with 14 wins, tying a program record for most wins in a regular season. Receiving its sixth straight NCAA bid, No. 6-seed Maryland was defeated by St. John's on its home field with a 1-0 loss in the 89th minute to bring its season to an end.
1999: Terrapin sophomores Dan Califf and Taylor Twellman both opted to explore their options in the professional ranks with Califf being selected in the first round by the Los Angeles Galaxy of MLS and Twellman signing with the 1860 Munich of the German Bundesliga, adding to Cirovski's list of former Terps currently enjoying successful professional careers. Twellman has since moved to MLS, earned a spot as an all-star starter in 2002, and led the league in points and goals per game in 2003.
2001: After a 10-9 record in 2000, the Terps returned to the NCAA Tournament again in 2001 for Cirovski's seventh NCAA appearance at Maryland. The Terrapins advanced to the second round after defeating Notre Dame before losing in overtime to Loyola 1-0 in the second round. The team was back in the Top 25 at the end of the year, finishing 25th in the NSCAA's final poll.
2002: Maryland fell just short of the NCAA title losing in the Final Four and finished third in the NSCAA/adidas final poll. The Terps had made their second College Cup appearance in four years and captured the school's second ACC Tournament title in addition to leading Terps to a then-program-best 20 wins.
2003: Cirovski was named the ACC Coach of the Year in helping guide Maryland to a 20-3-1 record, its first No. 1 ranking in the NSCAA poll, a second consecutive Final Four appearance and the ACC regular season crown. The 20 wins matched the school record set in 2002, and four Terp players were selected in the first two rounds of the MLS draft, more than any other team in the nation.
2004: The Terps continued to make their mark on the national scene, advancing to the College Cup for the third straight season and posting a 17-6-2 record. He helped mentor two Hermann Trophy semifinalists in forwards Abe Thompson and Jason Garey as Maryland set the school record for goals in a season with 62.
2005: Cirovski led Maryland to the national championship, the second in school history, with a 1-0 win against New Mexico in the title game. Senior Jason Garey, who left the school as the all-time leader in goals and points, was the school's first recipient of the Hermann Trophy, awarded to the nation's best player. He was selected third overall in the MLS SuperDraft.
2006: Despite losing five starters from the 2005 national championship team, the Terps remained a fixture on the national scene and finished the season with a 16-5-1 record and advanced to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament. Maryland saw unprecedented success in the MLS SuperDraft as Maurice Edu and Chris Seitz were taken No. 1 and No. 4 overall, respectively.
2007: Maryland lost two of the top players in the country, who left early for the MLS, but the Terps still went 10-6-5 and earned the 13th seed in the NCAA Tournament. Maryland is the only team in the country to be seeded and at least advance to the third round in each of the past six seasons.
2008: Boasting the top recruiting class in the nation, Cirovski and his squad had high expectations heading into the 2008 campaign. Despite losing Stephen King to graduation, the Terps established what Cirovski coined `The Gold Standard' as Maryland won more games (23) than any other team in program history en route to its third national title and its second in only four seasons. The Terps also won the ACC Tournament, marking the first time Cirovski captured both the ACC Tournament title and NCAA National Championship.
2009: Following a banner year for Maryland soccer, five student-athletes made the jump to the pros. Gonzalez was taken third by the L.A. Galaxy while fellow defender Delagarza joined his teammate in L.A. at the 19th pick. Wallace stayed local after being selected by D.C. United with the sixth pick and Hall headed to the New York Red Bulls at No. 11. Zusi was selected by the Kansas City Wizards with the 23rd pick. It was only the second time in MLS Super Draft history that three players from one school were selected in the first round.
2009: Boasting one of the top recruiting classes in the nation but having lost five of its top players in this decade, many question marks arose for the 2009 campaign. The unit came together splendidly, and despite a slew of injuries, the Terps advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the ninth consecutive season. An unseeded Terrapin squad marched all the way to the Elite Eight, upsetting both Penn State and Harvard on the road before falling to eventual national champion Virginia in Charlottesville. Goalkeeper Zac MacMath earned NSCAA All-America honors after another stellar season.
2010: Maryland racked up its second ACC Tournament title in the last three seasons and ended the year at 19-3-1. Zac MacMath and Matt Kassel both garnered NSCAA First Team All-America honors. Terps smashed its single-game attendance record when 7,260 fans came out to Ludwig to watch the Terps top Duke. MacMath, Jason Herrick and Billy Cortes were all selected in the MLS SuperDraft while Ethan White and Kassel etched MLS Homegrown contracts with D.C. United and New York Red Bull, respectively.
2011: Maryland tallied its nation-best 10th consecutive trip to the NCAA third round and finished with a 14-4-3 record - its 18th straight winning season. A league-best six player were named All-ACC.Casey Townsend and John Stertzer were tabbed to the NSCAA Second and Third Teams, respectively. Maryland was second in overall average attendance, posting 3,781 fans per game. Chivas USA picked up Townsend with the fifth pick overall in the MLS SuperDraft and Alex Lee was chosen by FC Dallas in the supplemental draft.
Achieving a level of excellence again at Maryland, Cirovski has added the respect of more people than ever for the Terrapins. He has combined an unparalleled ability to motivate and teach with exceptional mastery of technique to become one of the most talented and versatile soccer coaches in the nation. And whether it's on the field or in the classroom, Cirovski's student-athletes give it all they've got, and it shows.
In addition to the accomplishments of his 20-year coaching career with the Terps, Cirovski was also a standout student-athlete himself. He began his career at Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he was a four-year letterwinner. As a senior, he won the Herman Kluge Award for Male Athlete of the Year, and, in 1998, he was inducted into the UWM Athletic Hall of Fame. He earned his bachelor's degree in 1985 and his master's in 1989. He then spent parts of three seasons as a professional player and coach with the teams in the Canadian Soccer League, and the National Professional Soccer League. His first taste of coaching came in 1987 in the Canadian Soccer League.
Cirovski is entering his 20th year of coaching overall, and holds an "A" coaching license from the U.S. Soccer Federation, as well as an Advanced National Diploma from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. During the summer of 1997, he served as the assistant coach of the JVC U-17 World Youth Championship team, which played against Argentina, Uruguay, Egypt and two domestic camps. The team competed at the U-17 World Cup Championship in Egypt held in September of 1997. Cirovski also worked as an assistant coach for the U.S. U-20 National Team.
Cirovski's wife, the former Shannon Higgins, played collegiate soccer at North Carolina and entered the National Soccer Hall of Fame in the fall of 2002. The couple has three daughters; Hailey, Karli, and Ellie.