Mark Mettrick was nothing more than a lean rookie out of soccer-rich Hartwick College when fabled Major Soccer League scoring star Branko Segota tried to intimidate him.
"What have you done for the game?" screamed Segota at Mettrick after the Baltimore Blast midfielder/defender had kicked him and was called for a foul.
"What have you done?" shouted Mettrick right back without hesitation.
"I've won eight championships [11 now]," said Segota, then a midfielder for the San Diego Sockers during the 1988-89 season.
"Oh, OK," said Mettrick acknowledging Segota's titles but not backing down a bit.
Three seasons later, Mettrick still is holding his ground against the top scorers in the league, and he showed last Friday night that he knows a little about scoring goals.
The product of Glossup, England scored three goals for the first time in his MSL career, leading the Blast to a 9-4 victory over the Dallas Sidekicks at the Baltimore Arena.
Mettrick was chosen the Offensive Player of the Week in the MSL and has been the subject of a lot of ribbing by his teammates, who mobbed him when he completed the hat trick.
"Tatu who?" said Blast forward Domenic Mobilio jokingly in reference to the Sidekicks star, who couldn't match Mettrick that night.
"We call him Mark hat trick," said Rod Castro and Doug Neely in jest.
All kidding aside, Mettrick probably is the best-kept secret in the MSL.
He has good skills, can play a finesse or power game, is one of the better enforcers in the game and can score when he is at midfield.
Mobilio said Mettrick is respected by the players around the league for his ability.
But Mettrick, 27, still is looking for his first MSL All-Star berth.
"Mark came close to being an All-Star last year," said Blast coach Kenny Cooper, who named the final four players to the Eastern Division roster after the players chose the first 12.
Cooper said he was guided by the players' voting when he completed the roster and couldn't choose Mettrick.
Having the players' respect and being liked by the players are different things.
Mettrick, who is very at doing the little things to distract opposing forwards, might not be too high on some of their lists when it comes to voting time.
"If I make the All-Star team fine," said Mettrick. "And if I don't, that's OK. My goal this season is for us to win the championship."
Mettrick said this version of the Blast is "very feisty and capable of working our way out of jams. We just don't have any mega-stars."
Cooper said: "Mark is from the old school of English soccer which is prevalent here in Baltimore and St. Louis. No matter how big the game is, he says, 'Let's go out and have a go at them.' It's like that old saying in England before a game, 'It's a good day to die, let's go out and win the game.' "
NOTES: Tomorrow night's 8:35 Blast-Sidekicks game at Reunion Arena will be on HTS at 9 o'clock. HTS will join the game in progress, and then televise a complete rerun on Saturday at 1 p.m. . . . About 4,000 tickets remain for the Feb. 13 MSL All-Star Game at the Baltimore Arena, and there are tickets remaining for the Feb. 12 All-Star Cruise aboard the Bay Lady from 7-10 p.m. Tickets for the cruise are $25 each and include food, beverage, music and a chance to meet the MSL All-Stars. Tickets for the game and cruise can be obtained by telephoning (410) 327-2100. . . . Mettrick (bruised left foot), Mobilio (left groin strain) and Billy Ronson (strained cartilage in rib cage) all missed practice yesterday but are expected to play tomorrow night.