3 seniors on attack fuel Glenelg's soccer turnabout

October 25, 1992|By Michael Richman | Michael Richman,Contributing Writer

What was once hidden talent has become the talk of boys soccer in Howard County.

The firepower of midfielder Scott Cline and strikers Renard Brown and Dan Gaertner, unknown to many county coaches and players earlier this season, is the major force behind Glenelg's 8-1-1 record and No. 3 ranking.

The dangerous senior trio has paced Glenelg, combining for 30 of the Gladiators' 44 goals. Cline (11 goals, nine assists), Brown (13, four) and Gaertner (six, five) are the county's top three scorers.

"[The whole team] is a shock for a lot of coaches this year, but I knew they had a good team coming back," said Atholton coach Reg Hahne. "What's really nice is they have all the success but no big-name players. There're no standout kids."

The trio's effectiveness has created a 180-degree turnaround for Glenelg, not to mention it being a welcome relief for head coach John Bouman. Last season, the Gladiators scored 16 goals in a 5-6-1 season.

The fourth-year coach never has enjoyed such scoring.

"As of a couple of weeks ago, not too many opponents and coaches knew of the strength of the trio," Bouman said. "They're going to start paying attention now."

That was particularly true after Glenelg's 2-0 county victory last Friday over then-No. 4 Atholton. The win, decided in the first 13 minutes on goals by forward Chris Vaccari and midfielder Chris Schaefer, placed the Gladiators in a first-place county tie with Centennial -- the area's top-ranked team.

Brown said: "I have a lot of [soccer] friends. They know about Scott and they know about me, but they really don't know about Dave. He's probably the highest-skilled player on the team. Most opposing teams aren't aware of what we can do together."

The primary reason for the trio's dynamic scoring lies in Bouman's strategy to shuffle positions. Brown and Gaertner, midfielders in 1991, shifted to forward this year and accompany Vaccari as front-line weapons in a 3-4-3 setup. Cline rotates in from midfield.

With Brown and Gaertner taking form as offensive threats and eluding opponents with frequent one-touch passes, Bouman's repositioning has resulted in more scoring attempts from point-blank range.

Bouman said Glenelg forced many shots from around the 25-yard mark in 1991, but 80 to 90 percent of this season's goals have originated from eight to 10 yards out.

Now, the Gladiators are making a habit of keeping the ball in the opponent's penalty box, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

"Our forwards last year didn't have as good as skills as these guys have to take it to the goal," Bouman said. "We're able to beat players and keep the ball well into the box. You can't double-team all three players."

Cline said: "The reason for scoring more goals this year is we have more of a possession game up top. Dan plays in between midfield and forward a lot just to relieve pressure. You can see a lot of chemistry between him and Renard."

All three players know each other's skills. Brown and Cline have sported Glenelg's green and gold since their freshman seasons, and Gaertner arrived as a sophomore. In addition, Cline and Gaertner played club soccer together on the Howard County Wave.

The Gladiators are a veteran squad, with 12 seniors, most of whom have played together for three seasons.

"We've been playing together so long, this is the year we know what we're going to do," Brown said. "We know certain players are going to clear and some players are going to dribble."

Glenelg's defense also deserves credit for the change in fortune. The Gladiators, led by goalie Russell Payne and fullbacks Tom Hobbs and Jamie Brinker, have permitted four goals, blanking six opponents.

Bouman is delighted with Glenelg's tremendous depth -- from offense to defense -- that he has to work with.

"Last year, with a 1-0 or 2-0 lead, I wouldn't have been comfortable putting the inexperienced players in," he said. "This season, we have so many quality players on the bench who I can put in to give the starters a break."

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