Maryland men's soccer leans on sixth-year senior Doug Rodkey

By Steven Goff
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, November 21, 2010; 12:40 AM

On those occasions when Maryland men's soccer Coach Sasho Cirovski needs a point of reference for instructional purposes, he often finds himself turning to midfielder Doug Rodkey.

Never mind the four other seniors, two assistant coaches and director of soccer operations. Rodkey is the team elder, having begun his elongated career when some of his teammates were in middle school.

"I have pulled Doug aside and asked him: 'Okay, what did we do in 2005? How did we handle this in '08?' " Cirovski said.

"He does it a lot," Rodkey said, laughing. "Sometimes it's hard for me to remember, too, because I've been around for a long time. I have to say, 'I just don't know, Sash.' "

Rodkey, 23, is no ordinary senior. He broke a bone in his right foot twice three seasons apart and received two medical hardship waivers from the NCAA, stretching his association with the Terrapins to six years - a rarity in college athletics.

After earning degrees in government and criminal justice last winter, Rodkey is doing graduate work with a concentration on international security and economic policy.

Already part of two national championships, he is the starting right-side midfielder for a Maryland squad (17-2-1) that is seeded No. 2 in the NCAA tournament and will host Penn (13-5) on Sunday at 5 p.m. in the second round.

Maryland, the ACC champion, has won 13 consecutive matches, three short of the program record set two years ago in what should have been Rodkey's final season. However, he had missed the entire 2006 campaign with a fractured fifth metatarsal, extending his eligibility by a year, and was sidelined again early last season when he broke the third metatarsal in the closing moments of a match against North Carolina.

"I thought I was done," he said. "I didn't even know there was a sixth-year option."

There is. Since Cirovski's arrival in College Park in 1993, no soccer player had pursued it, but other Maryland athletes had, and the athletic department's compliance office was familiar with the procedure.

To qualify for a medical hardship, an athlete cannot have played more than 30 percent of the scheduled games. The UNC match had been the seventh on an 18-game regular season calendar, crossing the threshold, but because Rodkey had already missed two matches for unrelated reasons, he met the criteria at 27.7 percent.

The school also had to document his medical history and show that he could not have returned last season.

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