Calvert Hall's Adam Eagan loves being in the middle.
As a middle infielder last spring, he especially enjoyed scooping up ground balls at second base for the Cardinals, who won their fourth straight baseball championship. He had a grand time yesterday, too, helping No. 2-ranked Calvert Hall to a 2-0 soccer victory over No. 3 Oakland Mills.
Eagan is the Cardinals' stopper back, the point man on defense, but he has the green light to push forward on attack any time he senses an opportunity. Yesterday, he sensed it was time to break a scoreless tie.
"Stopper is the best position," said Eagan. "You don't have the responsibility to mark a specific opponent, so you have the freedom to move up the middle and make things happen. I was looking for a rebound, just trying to get into the middle of their defense."
What Eagan got was a perfectly placed assist from teammate J.J. Kremer with 21 minutes remaining.
"J.J. did all the work and I happened to be in the right position to get the goal," said Eagan.
Thirty-four seconds later, Eagan was back patrolling the midfield when sophomore Eric Branham intercepted a poor clear and scored to seal the season-opening victory.
"I wasn't surprised by their strategy," said Eagan, referring to the Scorpions' using only one striker and 10 defensive-minded midfielders and backs. "Mr. Karp [Calvert Hall coach Bill Karpovich] even told us before the game that we might see a 1-10 formation. Oakland Mills has a young team and they played hard. You can tell they are going to be very good in another year."
Oakland Mills coach Don Shea was somewhat satisfied with his vTC Scorpions, who tied Loyola, 3-3, in their opener last week.
"Hey, we had a 0-0 game going with 20 minutes left," he said. "We had them frustrated all over the field, and our sophomore sweeper [Brent Mascott] made two mistakes in a 34-second span. It's going to happen when you are young. Hopefully, it won't happen to him again."
Karpovich, meanwhile, was pleased with his defense, which had allowed only one goal in six preseason scrimmages.
"It may be better, more skilled," said Karpovich, comparing this year's back line of Eagan, John Vasilios, Michael Barger and Anthony Adams to his 1986 quartet that helped the Cardinals to a 21-0 record.
"It will be different for Calvert Hall's defense when Centennial comes at them with Josh Baer," said Shea, already anticipating the Sept. 21 contest between No. 1-ranked Centennial and the Cardinals.
Indeed, it will be different at Centennial on the Eagles' narrow field, but Eagan will still be there in the middle. He always is.
ATHLETES OF THE WEEK
* The Baltimore Sun Athlete of the Week nominations (boys and girls) will be accepted Sundays between 5 and 8 p.m. at 332-6200 (1-800-829-8000, ext. 6200 outside the Baltimore metro area). Weekly winners will be published each Tuesday in The Sun and The Evening Sun. Weekly winners will be honored at a June luncheon, when The Baltimore Sun announces its Male and Female Athletes of the Year.
Statistics for football, boys and girls soccer and field hockey also should be reported each Sunday evening between 5 and 8 at 332-6200. Statistics along with polls in football, soccer, cross country, field hockey and volleyball will run each Tuesday.