A change of position sent Malcolm Gillian on a scoring spree that propelled Oakland Mills to the state Class 3A title and Gillian to The Sun's Player of the Year honor.
During the four-game playoffs, Gillian scored nine of his team's 12 goals and had two assists.
He scored six game-winning goals, including those in both regional playoff games and the state semifinal. The regional games were 1-0 victories over Howard County rivals Howard and Centennial.
Gillian, a senior, scored four goals against South River in the 4-0 state semifinal victory, and a hat trick and two assists against Franklin in the 6-0 state final.
"I felt comfortable at midfield, but I wasn't scoring there, and the team wasn't producing," Gillian said. "So Coach [Don Shea] made the switch, and I just had a knack for being in the right place at the right time."
The Scorpions returned 17 senior lettermen this season and expected to win a state title. But an early-season incident in which three starting players were suspended 15 days for drinking beer on a school parking lot disrupted the team.
As a result, Oakland Mills stumbled to a 4-2 start, including a 2-0 loss to Class 4A state champion Bowie and a 3-2 loss to defending 3A state champion Howard.
After missing the Bowie and Bel Air games with a broken foot, Gillian returned for the Howard game, starting at midfield. When the Scorpions fell behind, Gillian moved to forward for the last 15 minutes, but didn't get a scoring opportunity.
"After the first Howard game, I knew we had lost our focus because of the drinking incident and just weren't scoring enough goals," Shea said. "We had our backs to the wall, and couldn't afford another loss and still make the playoffs. I thought Malcolm could score more at forward."
Gillian, who had 28 goals and 18 assists in three seasons at Oakland Mills, said that the overtime goal he scored in the regional semifinal victory over Howard stands out for him. "It was the turning point in our season," he said.
He credits teammates Ike Roh and Clint Peay for much of his success.
"Ike and Clint would see where I was going and get me the ball," said Gillian, who is being recruited by James Madison and Penn State. "It was set up for me to score. My best skills were the ability to see the play develop and then to finish."
Atholton coach Reg Hahne said: "Malcolm was a great transition player, who was always in perfect position to get the forward pass. Then he could turn quickly, dribble by a defender, and either shoot or pass right away. He had great ball skills."
Final top 10
1. Oakland Mills (14-2) 50
2. Centennial (11-2-1) 42
3. Howard (11-1-1) 41
4. Broadneck (9-3-4) 30
5. Calvert Hall (15-3-1) 26
6. Atholton (12-3-1) 24
7. North County (12-2) 17
8. Severna Park (10-3) 16
9. Dulaney (10-2-1) 9
10. Franklin (12-2) 8
Other teams receiving votes, with records and points in parentheses: Loyola (12-6-1, 5), Fallston (11-2-3, 4), McDonogh (14-3-2, 2), Archbishop Curley (11-4-1, 1), Overlea (11-2-2, 1).
How the poll is conducted: The Sun's board of coaches for 1990 is: Craig Laferty, Dulaney; Don Gregg, Severna Park; Bill Karpovich, Calvert Hall; Paul Snyder, C.M. Wright; Bill Stara, Centennial. The coaches vote each week. All teams from Baltimore City and Baltimore, Howard, Anne Arundel, Harford, Carroll and Queen Anne's counties are eligible to be ranked.
How the teams were picked
The Sun's All-Metro boys soccer team was selected by the newspaper's prep staff under the direction of prep editor Sam Davis after consulting with area high school coaches. The Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County and Howard County League teams were chosen by league coaches, and the Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County and Maryland Scholastic Association teams were chosen by the prep staff. All players and coaches of the year were chosen by the prep staff.