Maryland men’s soccer defender Donovan Pines, who anchored the team’s defense in a national championship run, will forgo his final year of eligibility to pursue professional opportunities.
Five days after coach Sasho Cirovski confirmed goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair won’t be returning next year, he told The Washington Post the same about Pines, the leader of the backline that didn’t concede a goal in all 450 minutes of the NCAA tournament.
Maryland’s 1-0 win over Akron in the national championship marked the final game for several vital pieces of Maryland’s stout defense, including seniors Andrew Samuels and Chase Gasper, who participated in the MLS Combine this week in Orlando ahead of the SuperDraft on Jan. 11.
St. Clair, a redshirt junior, is also at the combine after inking a deal with Generation Adidas, a system that allows a handful of select non-seniors to enter the MLS SuperDraft. Now, Maryland’s 2019 title defense will be without its 6-foot-5 defensive centerpiece, too.
A graduate of D.C. United’s academy system, Pines is not eligible for the draft. According to the Post, he hired an agent and has begun homegrown contract talks with D.C. United, which could also trade away his rights.
The Clarksville, Maryland, native postponed plans to train overseas with multiple clubs, as conversations with D.C. United ramped up, but a source told the Post he could revisit those options if a deal isn’t struck.
Pines missed only one game in his junior campaign, sitting out the Big Ten semifinal with a concussion. He returned in time for the NCAA tournament, where he ended his Maryland career with the program’s first national title in a decade.
An All-Big Ten first team recipient, Pines helped neutralize the nation’s most lethal goal scorers en route to the title. He held Kentucky forward JJ Williams and Indiana defender Andrew Gutman — two MAC Hermann Trophy finalists — to four combined shots in the third-round and semifinal victories.
In the 79th minute of the College Cup semifinal against Indiana, Pines raced past Gutman, who won the award for the best player in college soccer, and scored his second goal of the season to cement a spot in the national championship. Two days later, he helped close out the Terps’ fifth consecutive clean sheet to end the season.