Terp of the Week: John Stertzer
Oct. 19, 2012
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - Each week during the 2012-13 season a Maryland student-athlete, who has shown excellence on and off the playing field, will be selected as the Solomon Eye Associates Terp of the Week. This week's Solomon Eye Associates Terp of the Week is John Stertzer from the men's soccer team. Stertzer posted two assists in a win against a scrappy Rutgers team before scoring Maryland's first goal in a 2-1 victory at Duke. The senior MAC Hermann Trophy candidate has five goals for the Terps, who remain unbeaten in 2012.
By Taylor Smyth | Maryland Media Relations Student Assistant
After a breakout junior season in which he scored 14 goals and notched four assists, Maryland soccer fans wondered what John Stertzer could possibly do for an encore.
The answer from the Oakton, Va native: Defend.
“He’s the man of this team,” sophomore goalkeeper Keith Cardona said. “He’s a workhorse.”
In his final season at Maryland, Stertzer has evolved from an offensive specialist into a two-way force. The senior midfielder uses his pinpoint passing to start attacks and keep possession, but when the Terrapins lose the ball, he tracks back to help in defense.
“He’s a connector,” head coach Sasho Cirovski said. “He’s a guy we need out there.”
Against Duke, Stertzer was just that, putting in another sterling 90 minute performance. His measured link-up play, not to mention his opening goal, keyed Maryland to a 2-1 road victory over the Blue Devils.
“He was probably the most dominant player on the field,” Cirovski said. “John was in control of that whole game.”
“Our team prides itself on being a great defensive team,” Stertzer said. “A lot of goals we score come off of our defensive work, and understanding that has made me a better player.”
The new focus on defending has not taken away from Stertzer’s attacking prowess. However, this season, the 2011 first team All-ACC selection has been tasked with creating goals rather than scoring them. While Stertzer has tallied five goals, his three assists in 2012 may be more important to Maryland’s long-term success.
The task is even simpler by the immensely talented attacking options at his disposal.
“It makes my job so much easier,” Stertzer said. “We have great players all over the field. It’s tough for teams just to focus on one player when you have all those guys. It’s great.”
A team cannot succeed just on talent alone, and Stertzer has emerged as one of the main leaders of this Maryland squad, a role crucial for a team harboring championship aspirations.
“Becoming an upperclassman, it’s more crucial for me to be a leader on and off the field,” Stertzer said. “It’s something I want to do and it’s something this team needs. We have great leaders. Everybody leads by example. It’s a whole team effort.”
Leading by example has never been a problem for Stertzer. Lightly recruited out of high school compared to some of his teammates, Stertzer willed himself into an impact player over the course of his Maryland career, and has consistently delivered clutch performances against high quality opposition.
His goal and assist in a high profile early season contest against UCLA, and a crucial goal in a tough 3-2 road victory over NC State served as even more reminders of Stertzer’s class.
“Right before his junior year he was probably the hardest working guy on our team,” Cirovski said. “And then he had a breakout season. This year he’s had a great year, but he’s also added leadership.”
As the Maryland men’s soccer team strives for its third national championship in seven years, Stertzer’s play will be integral to any title run, and the senior is ready to lead his team on and off the field.
“My number one goal is just to do what’s best for the team,” he said. “At the end of the day, we have one team goal, and that’s to win a national championship.”