We have lived in College Park for a decade now and, yet, the benefits of life in this little corner of Prince George's County continue to present themselves anew.
Tonight, I walked our youngest over to Ludwig while our oldest accompanied her mom to a Friday night movie. Enjoying a Maryland soccer game with a toddler is not new, but the number of other families -- including coaches from other athletics teams at the University -- that are now also doing so means that I can now get through a full ninety minutes.
Or maybe this is how it has always been. Maybe there has always been an easy collegial vibe between administrators and athletes hanging out at soccer games (in addition to head coaches and athletes from other squads, President Wallace Loh was again on hand). But for an athletics program that was hammered last season by everyone who deigned to opine on the Terrapins, it sure seems like building a community anchored in pride is not just a promotional slogan.
Based on the limited stolen glances I had of the game, it was a good night to be one of the 4,846 folks at Ludwig. The game was tight, but Maryland kept its composure throughout. The one-nil victory over the Wahoos was well-deserved. It is just flat-out fun to watch Sunny Jane go. He is kind of good. Dan Metzger and John Stertzer were also very impressive tonight.
For their part, Virginia never backed down. The Cavaliers did not create a lot of offensive opportunities, but they still managed to absorb wave after wave after wave of rapid assaults. Georgetown Prep alum and DC United Academy veteran Marcus Salandy-Defour, a true freshman, acquitted himself well for Virginia. In fact, for a very young team -- five of the starting eleven were freshmen, four were sophomores and all three subs used were underclassmen -- they did not make many damaging mistakes.
The only notably poor performance tonight came from the referee, Shane Moody. I am no saint in the stands. I have developed the terrible habit of screaming in frustration at poor calls made by refs. But I have also refereed youth soccer games and blown numerous calls, so I rarely make note of any particular performance. I have never actually bothered to learn the name of any referee from a college game prior to this evening. But Mr. Moody, who has, I think, experience in the MLS and in the U.S. Open Cup, went way, way, way over the top in making a spectacle of his control of the match. Moody did not render any notable bad decisions, but he did loudly convey disdain for Coach Cirovski's protests regarding some questionable offside flags raised by his assistant before theatrically flourishing a yellow card to the Maryland bench for complaining about a foul call. In the stadium, Moody's exaggerated gesticulations looked ridiculous and seemed more a performance for the cameras than the game.
But that is only a very mild quibble for what was otherwise another great night of Maryland soccer.
Not every Maryland athlete was represented at Ludwig. The women's basketball team was at the movies and, before leaving, were stopped by a little girl and her family who are eager for the season to start.