Liberty watches Westminster Lions fill in the gaps left by graduated seniors

September 02, 1992|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

Could this be the year that the rest of the county catches up with Liberty in boys soccer? Liberty coach Lee Kestler says Westminster is the team to beat.

While Kestler's Lions (9-2-1 last season) lost 12 varsity players to graduation, Westminster coach Chuck Beaver has his entire starting defense back from last year's 8-3-1 team.

And where do North Carroll, South Carroll and Francis Scott Key fit into the picture? Is one of these teams ready to make a run at Liberty as well?

The Lions appear to be an endangered species after three straight county and Central Maryland Conference titles. Only 38 players came out for the varsity and JV teams.

Kestler is calling this season a rebuilder. But the nine-year mentor remains optimistic and, given his track record and last year's solid JV team, should produce another winning season.

"There will be no slacking at Liberty," said Kestler. "Every day is a challenge and it's going to be tough, but that's really what it's all about."

Kestler says the team is working hard to find its own identity and chemistry after last year's successful senior-laden team.

A major concern is finding a reliable goal scorer. Senior attackers Chris North and Mike Szymanski will have some big shoes to fill with three of the top 10 scorers in the county gone.

The story is almost the same at Westminster, but the entire defense is back. That's a big exception.

Coach Chuck Beaver is concerned with the lack of a proven goal scorer, but the team may not need to score lots of goals given its experienced defense.

"We're going to be able to keep the ball out of the net, but I'm not sure if we can put it in the net," Beaver said.

Seniors Chris Ahrens, Chris Maynard, Scott Smith and Jeff Seaman are the glue to the defense. Senior Jimmy Wolf is a first-year starter in the goal.

Senior midfielder Tony Fiore is the leading returning scorer for the Owls.

A year ago, he tied for third in the county with six goals and four assists.

Senior Ray Tosh and exchange student Kim Marini diVilla Franco of Italy will provide some of the scoring punch up front.

North Carroll coach Ed Powelson's motto for the last 31 years is simple and successful.

"We'll take 'em one at a time like we always have, knowing we have a shot at every game we play. That's why we play them," he said.

The Panthers (7-5 last year) have a solid nucleus returning minus Gary Burrows, the county's leading scorer, and goalie Scott Reaver.

With three starters back on defense and Kevin Dull taking control at his center midfield position, the big question for the Panthers will be on offense and in goal.

"We'll have a more balanced attack up from this year," Powelson said.

"Last year we relied an awful lot on Gary Burrows. Another question mark is our inexperience in goal."

Senior Kenny Hyman will fill the void left behind in goal by Reaver.

After a dismal 0-8 start, the Francis Scott Key Eagles found themselves just in time to qualify for the regional playoffs last year by winning their last four regular season games.

Coach "Gee" Hibberd is hoping to carry last year's late season momentum into this season in hopes of challenging the top teams in the Monocacy Valley Athletic League.

Nine lettermen make up the 16-team varsity roster -- the smallest turnout in Hibberd's 11 seasons as head coach.

"It was remarkable how we stayed together last year after that bad start," Hibberd said.

"The momentum factor should be a big plus. We have some versa tile people but not very much depth -- staying healthy all season long will be important."

Another question mark for the Eagles is their defense where only seniors John Engel (goalkeeper) and Mac Carr (stopper) return.

South Carroll remains a team seeking an identity under Charles Fazenbaker.

The third-year coach is still getting the kinks out of the 2-4-4 formation (two attackers and four midfielders) he incorporated when he took over in 1990.

As seems to be the case for a number of county teams, a low turnout is the first concern.

"We only have 18 players on varsity right now and four are out with minor injuries. It's really slowed us down a bit," Fazenbaker said.

"We're working on some new things and everything seems to be coming along with the 2-4-4."

"We just have to score. You can have a great defense but if you don't score, it puts that much more pressure on the defense."

The Carroll Christian Patriots made solid strides under first-year coach Dave Wisner last year in the Valley Christian Conference.

The Patriots improved to 4-7 after winning just once the prior year.

Jeff Calafos will anchor the defense at stopper, and freshman Chip Leonard will be in goal.

Wisner is going to four midfielders and two attackers to get everyone involved in the offense.

Senior Chris Hulver will be a key at midfield and senior Kevin Ash returns up front.

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