When junior Chris Eatough and senior Ernie Cardell take the field with the soccer team at Fallston High School, it's not only the opponents who have their eyes on them, but teammates and coaches as well.
Eatough and Cardell, both foreigners playing for Fallston this season, have brought a different style of play to the Cougars this season -- a style their teammates want to emulate because it is so effective in Cardell's and Eatough's native lands.
Cardell, who hails from Sweden, and Eatough, a British native, each came to the United States in early August. They both reside in Fallston.
Cardell is an exchange student; Eatough moved there with his family through his father's job transfer.
Since the season began, the two players have fit in with the Fallston team as snug as a foot into a soccer shoe, say players and the team's coach. And they have helped lead the Cougars (5-0-2) to become county champions this season.
"They just play what they've been taught. . . . It shows a new dimension," said Petrey.
Petrey said both players had plenty of great coaching before joining the Cougars.
They drop to the keeper more often in times of trouble and use the head ball more effectively.
Petrey says he is very impressed with the two and it's obvious that they bring different styles, strategies and experiences to the field.
Exactly how are Eatough and Cardell helping the team?
"Passing, crossing, defense," says center forward Shane Dougherty, a two-time member of the Region I Olympic Developmental Soccer Team in his age group.
Team captain senior Joe Kahl and goalie Steve Chairs say Cardell and Eatough can be counted on to make the smart play.
And the plays Cardell and Eatough make don't go unnoticed by their teammates.
Goalie Steve Chairs says players learn from Cardell and Eatough just by "the way they act and the things they do."
"Mainly, not only can they play offense and defense, they're all-around players," said Chairs. "They can play any position on the field."
With versatility and crisp, clean plays, Cardell and Eatough may be what has given the Cougars an advantage over their opponents. After going 2-4 in the county last year, the Cougars have come back strong, despite losing four seniors to graduation.
Cardell, the team's left-footed halfback, has two goals and two assists on the year, while Eatough, who is the Cougars' sweeper, has one goal and two assists.
"He (Cardell) has decent speed outside and above-average ball skills," said Petrey. "He makes nice runs without the ball, which I don't see a lot of. It seems like he can run all day."
Cardell's stamina may come from playing soccer in Sweden.
"We dribble more in Sweden," said Cardell. "And the fields are much, much better and more green."
Eatough offers a similar viewpoint. "Everything in America is tight and rushed and some fields are smaller," he said.
Both players like the fact that high school soccer in America draws a much bigger audience than back home. Club teams are the most popular in Sweden and England.
In their countries, the language of soccer is also different. A soccer field is referred to as a pitch, and a shoe as a boot. The game is called football.
Over the summer, players on the Fallston team waited anxiously to see what the foreigners would have to offer the team.
Most expected them to be good, since they were coming from Europe, where soccer rules.
"They went above my expectations," said Dougherty.
For now Eatough and Cardell are content with their positions. Eatough, the sweeper, likes being the last man between an attacker and the goalie.
He likes the challenge and the intensity.
"If you let him go by, that could be it," said Eatough.
"The plays he makes consistently are excellent," said Petrey. "If he is not scouted by some college, someone missed the boat," said the coach.
Cardell has adjusted to the halfback position, but says he is used to a more controlled style of play. However, said Cardell, "I think I'll stay there."
As for future sports endeavors, Cardell plans to experiment with some new activities. "This lacrosse thing sounds interesting," he said.
Eatough says he thinks it may be difficult for him to play the sports he has grown fond of in England: polo and cricket.
After a recent practice, both said one thing is for sure -- they're not going to hang up their boots when the Cougars' season ends. And both say they are interested in continuing soccer play this winter on an indoor pitch.