Maryland men's soccer coach Sasho Cirovski kept tabs on Eric Matzelevich for four years before the forward became a Terp.
Since arriving in College Park, Matzelevich has wasted little time in becoming a key contributor. He recorded two goals in his first four college games and has been Maryland's main freshman contributor so far this season.
"He's a young man we've been tracking for a long time," Cirovski said. "I just love the way he plays and how he's already becoming one of the leaders of the team as a freshman."
Matzelevich will attempt to continue his hot start when the No. 6 Terps (4-0-0) open conference play against No. 5 Indiana (4-0-0) on Friday.
The D.C. native earned his first career start Monday against Cal Poly, but he'll likely return to his role as a substitute against Indiana. Matzelevich said he feels comfortable coming off the bench.
"Coming in as a substitute, you're really just looking to make an impact," he said. "That's the biggest thing."
Matzelevich asserted his presence early in Maryland's season opener at Santa Clara, California.
The freshman checked in the 37th minute, and 50 seconds later he scored to give Maryland a 2-1 lead.
"He can obviously score goals," said midfielder Jake Rozhansky, who assisted Matzelevich's first college score. "We've known that since he was younger in the [Bethesda Olney Academy]."
Matzelevich and Rozhansky, a senior, played together with the Bethesda Olney Academy. Though they were in different age groups, Matzelevich would sometimes move up to train with Rozhansky's team.
"He's an absolute beast. He's a tank," Rozhansky said, adding the 6-foot-2, 185-pound forward was "huge when he was younger" and is "even bigger now."
Cirovski noticed Matzelevich's work ethic when he scouted him as a younger player.
Matzelevich showed that same dogged attitude shortly after he entered the game against UCLA on Sept. 1.
Midfielder Eryk Williamson passed to Matzelevich near midfield, but as Matzelevich dribbled forward he lost possession near the Bruins' 18-yard box.
Then Matzelevich chased down the UCLA player with the ball, closed the distance and slid to win the ball back for the Terps. It led to a free kick in a dangerous position.
"You have to make the most out of the opportunities you're given," Matzelevich said. "Hopefully [the] coaches have faith in you and everyone else sees the bright side and the talent in you."
In the 73rd minute against UCLA, Matzelevich scored his second goal of the season, patiently waiting for a pass from Williamson before rocketing his effort off the post and in.
The finish reflected his refined shooting ability, something Cirovski pointed to as an area he's improved in over the past four years.
"You try to be clinical in those moments [and] bring out what you do every day in the training ground," Matzelevich said. "[Then] after the ball goes in … you're just living in the moment and it's the best feeling in the world."