Pete runs Terrapin Station, an University of Maryland blog. After watching new Philadelphia Union draftee Zac MacMath during his time at Maryland, Pete talks about MacMath at the school and his play for its soccer team.
When I came to college, I wasn't really that interested in soccer. Sure, I watched a few World Cups, but I couldn't name more than four teams in the EPL or the MLS, and I surely had never watched a game in person. When I chose Maryland, it was because it was close to home and because it had a great journalism school – I knew nothing about the soccer program, and frankly didn't care.
I lucked out. My first weekend at school, there was only one sporting event – a soccer exhibition. I don't even remember who they were playing, but there was nothing else going on on campus so I decided to check it out.
Soon I discovered the rituals of the cheers. Right before an opponent's goal kick, a fan would yell out something that ended in -o, like "Hey, [Goalie's Name]! For breakfast this morning, I had some Cheerioooooooos!" and the rest of the crowd would join him in the -o's until the ball was kicked, subsequently chanting, "You suck, [Goalie's Name]!" Unlike football or basketball games, profanity wasn't allowed, and neither were insults directed at family. Instead, fans were forced to be clever (crazy, right?), and sometimes you'd see the opposing goalie chuckle at the things "The Crew" would say.
But there was one cheer that stood out, game after game. The leaders of "The Crew" would get the three prettiest girls in the stands to hold up three letters and shout them out as loud as they could, while the rest of the crowd would respond.
"Z! A! C!"
Zac MacMath will go down as one of the most successful and talented players every to play in the prestigious Maryland soccer program. If you had heard of anybody on the soccer team (and most people had), it was MacMath.
He's tied for the single-season record for shutouts (12) with Dom Macina, and holds the program's record for GAA in a single season (0.44). Those marks were both set in 2008, MacMath's freshman year and arguably the most dominating year by a Maryland goalie ever. He went 19-1-0 with 12 shutouts, allowing nine goals in 21 games, on the way to a national championship for the Terps.
He never had a year quite like 2008 again, but his sophomore and junior campaigns were anything but bad – a combined 32-9-3 record with 22 shutouts and 0.77 GAA.
Undoubtedly, MacMath had some great players in front of him, especially on defense. Current LA Galaxy teammates Omar Gonzalez and A.J. DeLaGarza, former Red Bull Jeremy Hall, and DC United signee Ethan White are among many talented defensemen whom he played with.
Even with all that talent, you could always tell MacMath was special. He has great hands, quickness, and a desire to win. Luckily for Maryland, and now for the Union, he has the skills to turn that desire to win into actual wins.
On media day this past year, I got a chance to talk to Zac for a few minutes, and by all accounts he's a great guy as well. He's very personable, well-liked around the school, and is very media savvy.
There were rumors over the past year that he might be loaned out to an EPL club – Everton was a name that came up many times. Really, I see no reason why he can't start immediately and be productive immediately – he has the talent to play overseas and he has played at a high level for many years. I'm glad to see him stay close to home. And hey, he gets to join another Terp: Danny Califf.
As someone who grew up in LA and now lives in the DC area, I've never rooted for anything Philly in my life. It now looks like that's changed, and I have an MLS Eastern Conference team to cheer for (and thankfully, a great blog to read about them on). Go Union!