AACS eager to prove itself against grade A soccer competition By request, Cavaliers face tougher schedule

September 12, 1993|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Staff Writer

The schedule never has been this difficult, yet the expectations might be at an all -time high.

This is an exciting time to be involved with the Annapolis Area Christian School boys soccer program.

Coming off a 13-4-1 season that culminated in a second-straight Christian Schools Athletic Association tournament title, the Eagles have taken a bold step forward by arranging games against three Maryland Scholastic Association A Conference teams.

"We wanted to show that we can play on a higher level and our best players shouldn't be discounted because of a supposedly weak schedule," said fourth-year coach Bob Topp, who also is the school's athletic director. "This is the strongest schedule that's been put together in our history. If it doesn't destroy us, it will make us stronger."

AACS survived the first test on Tuesday, scoring a 1-0 victory over Archbishop Spalding. Granted, the Cavaliers aren't a county power -- they were 1-14-1 last year -- but that doesn't diminish what the Eagles accomplished against a team that plays in what is regarded as a superior conference.

"We did not want to pay a lot of attention to the fact that Spalding had a poor record last year," Topp said. "We're just thrilled with the fact we could beat an MSA A Conference team because I know I've never done that at this school, and I don't think it was ever done in school history."

Freshman forward Brian Dennstaedt scored the only goal, traveling down the center of the field and beating Spalding keeper Danny Watts.

"We have a few players who can play county-caliber teams, and we were looking forward to playing tougher teams," said junior Jimmy Himes, the county's leading scorer last year with 18 goals and seven assists, despite a hairline fracture in his right foot. "We weren't sure if we have the depth to play with the bigger teams, but we were looking forward to it.

"Beating Spalding gives you a boost of confidence. We have a really small school with not a whole lot of people to choose from, so it was an accomplishment for our school."

Senior Tim Jacobs (16 goals, seven assists) said the upgraded schedule -- which includes games Oct. 1 at St. Mary's and Oct. 4 at Severn, plus the usual ones with conference foes Grace Brethren and Montrose Christian -- wasn't forced upon the team.

"We had asked for it," he said. "The last two years, we had somewhat of a challenge in our league, but for the most part, there were more weak teams than strong teams. We asked for stronger teams. And beating Spalding gives us recognition."

That's good news for Topp, who wants to make certain that Himes and seniors like Jacobs and halfback Keven Moldenhauer (seven goals, nine assists) get ample exposure to college recruiters.

"We want to showcase them to get them into good colleges," he said.

Topp has a nice mix of veteran and younger players. His returnees include senior fullback Josh Coonradt, junior halfback Peter Best, junior fullback Chris Boston and sophomore fullback Brian Roszell. Dennstaedt played on the varsity last season as an eighth-grader and had 13 goals and nine assists.

Three starters graduated, including goalkeeper Dain Hungelmann, whose spot was taken by sophomore Peter Green. Green started on the Eagles' undefeated junior varsity last year.

Junior Scott Mericle joins a rotation at fullback that should compensate for the loss of one starter from last season. A halfback also departed, but Topp simply moved Moldenhauer from the wing to center. Sophomore halfbacks Paul Brunette and Rob Sentz also joined the varsity.

"We're hoping to go undefeated and we're taking it one game at a time, taking every game like it's our last," Himes said. "We have a good offense and our defense is getting better. We're hoping they can support us and enable us to concentrate mainly on scoring goals instead of coming back, acting as another sweeper."

Topp would like his team to avoid the one disappointment that marred an otherwise successful 1992 season, when AACS finished third in the league behind Montrose Christian and champion Grace Brethren.

"We were coming off a 12-1-2 season where we had won everything in the conference, and we expected to do equally well. So, I guess to put it positively, we made a very admirable comeback to upset the first and second seeds in the tournament. That was very meaningful," Topp said.

"We feel we've gotten a handle on the kind of obstacles we dealt with last year that we're now able to overcome. The players recognize that coming off honors from the previous season doesn't mean anything will be handed to them. They've reached the maturity point to recognize they have to play hard every minute and then sit back and enjoy the honors, instead of expecting the glory to come before the game begins."

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