As Amar Sejdic walked out in front of a record-setting 8,449 fans at Ludwig Field for Maryland men’s soccer’s 2015 home opener, he felt exhilarated.
Sejdic, a freshman at the time, was playing for the first time beneath the “Friday Night Lights” — the program’s traditional term for each Friday night home game.
In that match, the No. 6 Terps defeated top-ranked UCLA with a walk-off goal in sudden-death overtime. Sejdic recorded a team-high three shots as Maryland upended one of college soccer’s blueblood programs. And from the first whistle until the last blast, the butterflies in his stomach persisted.
Now a senior captain, Sejdic wants to play in front of one final raucous Friday night home-opening crowd as Maryland (0-1) hosts No. 10 Stanford (0-0-1), the three-time defending national champions, on Friday.
“It’s going to be nice,” Sejdic said. “It’s my last home opener and I’m looking forward to it. I hope it’s a crazy atmosphere.”
Ludwig Field is expected to be packed, as it is for the majority of Friday night games. More than 7,000 fans have attended each of the Terps’ last five Friday night home openers.
Sejdic has started in the last three, which have all ranked as one of the four most-attended Division I games nationally in each respective season. The midfielder notched an assist in the Terps’ 2-1 victory over local foe Georgetown in 2016. Last season, Maryland knocked off UCLA in overtime for the second time in three years.
This year, coach Sasho Cirovski scheduled a men’s college soccer dynasty.
“It’s one of the best nights in college soccer — in fact, the best night in college soccer,” Cirovski said. “This year, the opponent couldn’t get any better.”
Cirovski always brings in a national championship contender for his team’s first Friday home game. It wasn’t hard to find the best option to fill that requirement this year.
Stanford has gone 52-7-10 over the last three seasons, becoming the first team to win three consecutive national championships for the first time since Virginia won four straight from 1991 to 1994. The Cardinal haven’t lost more than three games in a season since 2013.
“Being at a big program like this, these are the types of games you look forward to,” goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair said. “It’s one of the reasons why you come to Maryland. You want to play the big games against the best teams.”
Stanford began the season ranked No. 1 in the country, but fell to No. 10 after a scoreless draw against San Jose State. The Cardinal had a 24-9 advantage in shots, but like the Terps in their season-opening 2-0 loss to No. 24 Washington, they couldn’t capitalize on their opportunities.
The matchup will be featured on Fox Sports 1, the first Big Ten Olympic sport aired on the channel.
“That shows a lot of respect for both programs,” Cirovski said, “and also what we got going on here at Ludwig Field on Friday nights.”
As one of the team’s three captains, Sejdic has offered more advice on how to mentally prepare for big matchups. He’s confident Maryland’s skill set can match up against Stanford.
On Friday night, he anticipates similar emotions to the ones he felt three years ago in his first game under the lights at Ludwig Field.
“I’m hoping that same feeling will happen again,” Sejdic said. “We know that we’re going to go out there with one thing in our mind, and we want to win that game.”