Gregg calmly recharges Severna Park 1992 ALL-ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY BOYS SOCCER TEAM Coach of the Year

November 23, 1992|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Staff Writer

More than at any time during his coaching career, Severna Park's Don Gregg needed to lead by example this season.

He remained calm when none of his full-time starters from the previous year returned. He hardly flinched when untested sophomores and juniors were given important roles.

And most impressive, he didn't show any signs of panic after removing five starters from the team for disciplinary reasons.

Severna Park was 4-1 when the roster underwent a dramatic, and potentially devastating, change. The coach, always understated, remained the same, and his Falcons didn't lose another game until the Class 4A, Region IV semifinals.

It may have been his most impressive work in 19 seasons.

"It was my most challenging season, to say the least," said Gregg, The Baltimore Sun's Anne Arundel County boys soccer Coach of the Year. "The kids adapted, though. After the last game, the seniors came up and said they had fun this year. They enjoyed themselves."

Unlike past years, the Falcons weren't considered a strong favorite to make the region playoffs. Old Mill and North County were expected to be vastly improved, and there were plenty of other challengers waiting to take advantage of a weakened Severna Park team.

The Falcons lost their first game, 1-0, in overtime, to Calvert Hall. They won four straight, including a 5-4 overtime victory at North County, when Gregg dismissed the players who were involved in an incident at Broadneck that damaged the school's stadium turf.

"There was no sense in panicking," Gregg said. "We still had a good team. We just didn't have the depth. When you take five starters out, it does make a difference. But we were fortunate that everybody picked up their level of play."

Senior Aaron Duca said: "He was optimistic with us. He encouraged everyone to go out and not let it bother us and just to play our game.

"You could tell he was disappointed, but he didn't let it bother him. He made sure he didn't let it get the players down."

The Falcons won their next seven games -- making it 11 straight -- including a hard-fought, 5-3 victory at Old Mill that enabled them to clinch the top seed in Region IV. Their season ended with a 4-0 loss to the Patriots in the region semifinals.

Severna Park seemed to have reached its nadir Oct. 13, when a injuries further depleted the roster before a game at South River.

"We were down to five subs," Gregg said. "All I had to do is put the numbers of the kids on my hand. Usually, I have a card."

With Gregg already having dipped into a talented pool on the junior varsity, and then further shuffling his remaining players, Severna Park came away with a 5-2 win.

Gregg coached the team to the same number of victories as last season, when Severna Park went 11-3 and lost in the region finals.

"I thought they played better as a team this year than last year," said Meade coach Mike Dey, whose squad defeated the Falcons for the region championship last season. "It's hard to get a team to share the ball like they did. And that makes it harder to defend against."

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