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Global Mar 08, 2012

Terrapin men primed for spring-season test against skillful Salvadorans

By Roger Gonzalez

University of Maryland’s men’s soccer coach Sacho Cirovski has seen plenty in his long collegiate coaching career. Hard work, smart tactics and canny player development have seen the tactician capture two NCAA National Championships with the Terrapins, the first in 2005 and the second in 2008.

A unique opportunity will present itself on Sunday as he and his team prepare to hunt a third title in 2012, as the ACC heavyweights will do battle against El Salvador’s Under-23 national team.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to play against an international opponent,” Cirovski said. “It will be a great test for us and gives us an extra game in the spring [season], because it’s an accepted game by the NCAA.”

The contest will serve as an off-season friendly for Maryland, while the Central Americans are looking to find their form ahead of the 2012 CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament, which will take place in three U.S. cities from March 22 to April 2.

“My Maryland team played the U.S. Olympic team before the ’96 Olympics,” Cirovski recalled. “It’s a treat. It’s really the highlight of the whole spring.”

Next year’s team returns eight starters off a squad that went 14-4-3 and made the NCAA Tournament, losing in the third round to Louisville. The coach is eager to see how his men stack up with the guests.

“We want to be exposed and see what we have to do to get better,” Cirovski said. “Playing a team like this, a team that is going to be very skillful and very much in form, I really think they are going to challenge us.”

The coach expects his players to learn plenty.

“We feel very strongly that playing against some older, more mature players is only a benefit,” he said.

Even though he is unfamiliar with the opponent for Sunday, the event is certain to be a spectacle for the fans, according to the coach.

“I don’t know the El Salvador team that well, and they don’t know us that well,” Cirovski said. “[Fans] are going to see two teams that like to keep the ball and like to attack.

“We are not going to sit back and keep the score down. We are going to try and make it fun for the fans who come out and watch.”

Those who wish to attend can go to MDSoccerPlex.org to purchase tickets. Around 1,500 tickets have already been sold, with many more expected to be purchased in the coming days.

Tickets cost $20 and those who wish to attend can purchase them through the SoccerPlex (MDSoccerPlex.org) or at a number of local outlets: Megamarts, La Chiquita Express, Zodiac Express, El Cuscatleco Sports Bar, La Frontera Restaurante, Morazan Grocery and Taca Masabrosa.

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