Mt. Hebron sisters get their kicks in

October 27, 1992|By Michael Richman | Michael Richman,Contributing Writer

It's no wonder why Mount Hebron girls soccer coach Warren Michael labels Stephanie Otto "a pretty tough nut."

One day in practice, Michael, playing an offensive role, collided with Otto, a senior stopper for the Vikings, as both vied for a loose ball. Otto went down, but reappeared an instant later.

"She got right back up and got back into my face to cover me," said Michael.

Michael, also a math teacher at the school, added, "I had her in class and she was always nice and courteous. It's kind of like a football player who's real nice, but as soon as he puts the equipment on, he becomes instantly tough."

Stephanie and her freshman sister, Shannon, are Mount Hebron's top two scorers.

Having clinched a 2A playoff berth after last Friday's 4-0 win over Glenelg, the Vikings are 6-3 and 3-2 in Howard County with Shannon and Stephanie pacing the offense. Shannon, one of the county's leading scorers, has 16 points on 12 goals and four assists, while Stephanie has four goals and five assists for nine points.

The younger Otto plays center/forward. A dangerous striker, she is quick, elusive and possesses a canniness more common with experienced high school players. Stephanie is positioned close to midfield at the upper tip of the Vikings' diamond defense. She makes long, direct kicks, and frequently leaves the defensive backfield to assist on offense.

Michael is impressed with their combativeness on the field, and Stephanie admits that she tries hard to spot her sister in scoring position.

"I look for her when I get the ball because she can handle it and dribble around her player and shoot it," said Stephanie, a nominee for the all-state team. "If we can get her shooting more, the more she shoots, the more she scores because she's a real offensive threat."

Shannon said, "I was hoping to score, but I didn't think I'd be scoring as much as I am."

Shannon in a sense is already a soccer veteran. She's played the sport competitively for seven years, three in club action with the Columbia Spirit. Stephanie has 11 years of experience, also performing for the Columbia Command and Columbia Crusaders. This is the first year they've been on the same team.

Mount Hebron sports another sister act in Shannon and Erin McGinnis. But they aren't as experienced as Shannon and Stephanie.

Michael describes the Otto duo as "students of the game." He sometimes changes on-the-field formations on their advice.

"They're both analytical about the game," said Michael, who is in his first season. "They're always trying to make the game better."

Michael notices a "spark" in Shannon's eye when she gets the ball. The freshman got two goals against Glenelg. First, she controlled the ball at the top of the penalty box and curved a shot just beyond the goalkeeper's hands. The second time, she skillfully dribbled through two defenders before finding the net.

Shannon has also showed she can score in the clutch, getting both goals in Mount Hebron's 2-1 overtime win over Howard.

Coaches such as Hammond's Dave Guetler and Howard's Dave Vezzi give Shannon high marks as a player. However, they believe Centennial's Michelle Clare is the county's best freshman striker.

"[Shannon's] got a good, hard shot and she's the kind of player who you can't give much space to," Vezzi said. "She's got the ability to score from 20 yards out."

While Shannon is a low-key player, her older sister, a team captain along with seniors Amy Fine and Lori Pasquentonio, is vocal during practice and games. She is demanding of her teammates, and Michael sees a "temper" in her.

"She can get really angry in practice," said Fine, a good friend of Stephanie's. "She has a real drive to succeed, and when people don't do what she expects, she gets angry."

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