Academy alum Zack Steffen doing his utmost to continue a unique Maryland-Union tradition

Steffen eager to become third Maryland frosh GK to hoist title

Steffen CC image

Photo Credit: 
Courtesy of Maryland Athletics

So there’s this fascinating trend developing in the NCAA College Cup.

The University of Maryland won national championships in 2005 and 2008.

In 2005, the Terrapins defeated New Mexico 1-0 with former Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Chris Seitz leading the way. In 2008, Maryland ousted North Carolina 1-0 with current Union goalkeeper Zac MacMath providing the clean sheet.

If the Terrapins can capture another championship in 2013, they will be anchored by freshman Zack Steffen, a Union academy alum.

Beginning Friday night under the lights at PPL Park, No. 5 Maryland (16-3-5) will play No. 8 Virginia (13-5-5) at approximately 7:30 p.m., following the first match featuring No. 3 Notre Dame (15-1-6) and No. 7 New Mexico (14-5-2).

Steffen, a former standout at nearby Downingtown West High School, has played every single minute this season with an 1.11 goals against average. He has 67 saves and a .705 save percentage.

“It’s been awesome,” Steffen said. “These guys are great. Playing soccer is the best. Can’t think of a better school to play for. I’ve had a great time. (The Union academy) helped my growth, working with Rob Vartughian, the goalkeeper coach at the Union. He helped me out a lot. My focus is on Maryland and my growth here right now.”

The Terrapins defeated the Cavaliers 1-0 in the ACC Championship game earlier this season. The two schools played to a thrilling 3-3 draw in the regular season.

Overall, this will be the third matchup between these heated rivals.

“I feel Maryland-Virginia is the best rivalry in college soccer,” said Maryland coach Sasho Cirovski. “You look at what the two programs have done and it’s unprecedented in terms of the modern era. It’s a marquee matchup. There’s a lot of respect for two programs which always have great games and I expect Friday night to be no different.”

Cirovski said that at least four buses full of Maryland fans are expected to make the short trek to Chester.

And that’s fantastic news for junior midfielder Alex Shinsky.

“It’s a great feeling since they announced the College Cup coming to Philadelphia,” said Shinsky, who hails from York, Pa. “It’s been something I looked forward to and have been motivated to get back here. It’s great playing in front of my fans and friends and everything...It’s a great atmosphere and a great soccer area and I’m really excited about that.”

When you’re playing a team for the third time, there are no secrets. It’s simply about executing.

“We know Virginia is a great team,” Shinsky said. “We know them pretty well. It’s great to play them again. Obviously, we had a great battle the first two games and it went our way in the ACC final. It’s going to be a great game.”

Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at andy.jasner@yahoo.com