Sasho Cirovski understands that the Terrapins men’s soccer team’s defense of its ACC tournament title will be a daunting task.
After Friday night’s overtime win against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., the No. 5 Terps earned a share of the conference regular-season title and clinched the top seed for the ACC tournament, which begins tonight with the quarterfinal matches.
And while the 21st-year coach noted the importance of both those accomplishments, especially considering the trials his young team has faced during this season, he recognizes those will become irrelevant when the Terps kick off against Boston College tonight at Ludwig Field.
“It’s nice to be at home,” Cirovski said. “But we know that the game is won inside the lines. We’ve seen already a lot of road victories in the ACC. We’ve already dropped two games at home this year. So [playing at home] is very important only if we make it an advantage.”
The eight-team tournament features four other teams ranked in the top 20 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll — No. 1 Notre Dame, No. 13 Wake Forest, No. 15 Virginia and No. 19 North Carolina — as well as Clemson, which narrowly missed the rankings after receiving 53 votes.
The NSCAA will release its new rankings this afternoon. The Irish, Terps, Demon Deacons and Cavaliers will remain ranked after wins this weekend. The Tar Heels suffered a home loss to N.C. State on their Senior Night and could drop out of the top 25. Meanwhile, the Tigers fell to Duke and will likely remain unranked for the ACC tournament.
Last season, the Terps also claimed the No. 1 overall seed for the conference tournament but overcame a field that included just five of nine teams with winning overall records.
This year, every team in the tournament except Boston College finished with a winning overall record.
“This is the deepest ACC field in history,” Cirovski said.
In their regular-season finale Friday night, the Eagles traveled to Klöckner Stadium in Charlottesville, Va., and took the Cavaliers to overtime before surrendering the game winner in the 98th minute.
It was their fifth one-goal loss to an ACC tournament team this season.
“This ACC field is so strong and competitive this year that you can’t overlook anybody,” forward Patrick Mullins said. “You can’t be thinking too far in advance.”
A strong performance this week from the Terps could boost their resume for the upcoming NCAA tournament. Even though the Terps are ranked in the top five, two home losses and five draws overall could prevent them from earning a favorable seed for a national title run.
Cirovski said the College Cup is the least of his concerns right now, though. The Eagles provide a challenge, not to mention opponents who could be waiting for the Terps in the semifinals and finals if they advance.
“The only thing on our mind right now is to find a way to be successful against an improved and athletic and disciplined Boston College team,” Cirovski said. “This is a very good team, and we’ve got to make sure we’re ready to play.”