AACC men's soccer team faces 'a rebuilding year'

September 03, 1992|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,Staff Writer

While most coaches would shudder at the thought of having just five returning players on their roster, Anne Arundel Community College men's soccer coach Ken Wolf is thankful to have that many.

"Every year is a rebuilding year for us," said Wolf, who despite having only four sophomores last season, led his team to a 13-8 record before losing to Montgomery-Rockville in the semifinals of the Region XX playoffs.

"Each year we have kids who transfer or don't come back to school for one reason or another. It's a fact of life that we just have to live with.

"We feel if we have five or six players back, that produces a good, solid nucleus for us. We don't look at it as rebuilding, we're just remodeling."

Sophomore Rodney DeConti of Meade is just one player affected by Wolf's remodeling effort. DeConti played forward for the Pioneers last year, but was informed at the start of camp last week that he would join All-Conference selection John Plummer of Glen Burnie in the midfield.

DeConti, who was Anne Arundel's second-leading scorer last year, said he was initially a bit reluctant to accept his new role, but now finds himself "almost" liking it.

"At first I was a little hesitant when Coach Wolf told me and John we would be working at center-midfield," said DeConti, 5-foot-11, 165 pounds. "I said, 'What are you talking about?' But, he explained the situation to me and I figured I'd do what's best for the team.

"It's a little different than playing forward because now after we shoot, I have to hurry back to pick up my man. But, with all the running I've been doing in preparation, I think I'm in the best shape of my life."

Wolf said he will continue to rely on DeConti to provide an "added scoring punch," but has informed him of his main role -- directing the attack.

"He's still going to score his share of goals," Wolf insisted. "Rodney is quick and strong and does a good job distributing the ball. He has a good touch and good skills. His biggest adjustment is that he'll be needed to defend more than he did at forward."

Unlike last season, Wolf doesn't expect scoring goals to be much of a problem. And why should he?

North County product Jody Haislip returns after leading the Pioneers in scoring last year with 16 goals and five assists. Haislip, who was selected to the All-Conference and All-Region teams last season, is joined by another proven scorer in Archbishop Spalding graduate and All-County selection Pat Mohr. Mohr scored 19 goals for the Cavaliers last season and Wolf expects similar offensive production from him this year.

"Jody and Pat will play a big role in our scoring," said Wolf. "Both have played a lot of club ball together and they both know each other well and complement each other well on the field. They should provide the bulk of the scoring.

"If you look over our roster, I would anticipate that we shouldn't have trouble scoring. Our big question mark is on how many goals we are going to concede."

An injury to one player and another's conflicting job schedule have forced Wolf to make some changes on defense as well. Wolf has moved former midfielder Larry Sancomb to sweeper where he will be responsible for running the defense and controlling the tempo of the game.

"I selected Larry because he has the attitude you need to run the defense," said Wolf. "The sweeper has to be able to read the game to see how the play is going, and Larry best fulfills our needs at this point.

"He's a sure tackler with good speed and he's tall, so we're hoping he can control the air. I think he'll do well and get better each game. He just needs experience."

Goalie John Gratson, one of five players from Meade's 11-4 region champion squad, is another player Wolf sees improving.

"He has good hands and is very strong physically, and a very strong punter," said Wolf, who has given Gratson the early nod as starting keeper. "His leadership skills aren't all there yet, but all freshmen are a little tentative when they get into a new environment. I expect he'll get more assertive and more confident with each game."

Anne Arundel's 13-member freshmen class has five players from Meade's 11-4 region champion squad. The former Mustangs include Gratson, midfielders Rob Azzara, Jim Dey and Jason Hall; and fullback Rick Baur.

Other new additions are forward Chris Cruz and midfielder Damion Dzambo of Glen Burnie, fullback Mark Patrick of Broadneck, goalie Glen Hedgecoth of Northeast, fullback Denny Gavin of Chesapeake, and fullback Brian Lawson of Mount St. Joseph.

"We've got some good players, and I'm looking forward to getting the season started," said Wolf, whose team travels Saturday to Delaware Tech. "We have a lot of talent; it's just a matter of getting them to play together because they've all come from such diverse soccer backgrounds."

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