By Josh Caplan
Ludwig Field is known around the country as one of the most storied venues in all of collegiate soccer. And thanks to the quality performances of Maryland men’s soccer this year, the fans will be treated to one last home game against Long Island University Thursday in the NCAA Tournament.
With the help of the famed student’s section, The Crew, the average attendance at Ludwig this year so far is 2,446 according to NCAA statistics. This number is good enough for third in the country and number one amongst Big Ten teams.
This also marked the fourth straight season (excluding 2019-20 as no fans were allowed) that the Terps finished in the top three of average attendance, and the seventh straight season of finishing in the top five.
Junior Austin Antico is a current member and vice-president elect of The Crew. However, he never thought he would love Maryland soccer as much as he has through three years.
“I always thought soccer was boring” Antico said, “but I got dragged out to a game my freshman year, and I fell in love with it. I went to every game freshman year, and every game this year so far.”
Although Antico has been coming to the games for multiple years, some fans and players are experiencing the noise at Ludwig for the first time. Freshman forward Caden Stafford scored Maryland’s first goal of the season in a 1-0 win over Charlotte in August.
When asked about The Crew’s reaction, he said it was unlike anything he had ever experienced.
“Oh man,” Stafford said, “that was one of the best moments of my life. For sure.”
Maryland head coach Sasho Cirovski has always described his relationship with The Crew as a “love affair”. That love affair was on full display this year, with the fans constantly chanting the coach’s name before the kickoff of every game, and The Crew spurred the team on to an undefeated regular-season home record, with the sole home loss being a quarterfinal defeat to Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament.
Should Maryland win on Thursday against Long Island University, the Terps will travel to Saint Louis to take on the 10th seeded Saint Louis Billikens.
Antico says that he and The Crew will make sure that although it may be their last game, they want to do their best to make sure it’s the Terps who head to the midwest.
“Whether we have five people or five hundred to a thousand people in that stand, it’s going to be the same amount of noise and just as rowdy,” Antico said.
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