Summer school pays off big for C. Milton Wright's giant killers Camp helps team pull rank in soccer

September 16, 1993|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,Staff Writer

A summer soccer camp in Cecil County has turned out to be the catalyst for an unranked C. Milton Wright boys team that already has surprised some big-name foes.

The Mustangs made some waves in the soccer community when, in the span of seven days, they tied Calvert Hall (0-0) and Centennial (2-2), two teams with national reputations who were ranked Nos. 1 and 2, respectively, in the area's preseason poll. In between the two road games, Wright whipped No. 12 Mount St. Joseph, 7-1.

Of the rugged start, sophomore striker Eric Litros said, "We were not looking at it from the idea of win-loss, but the level of play. We knew these were good teams and we just wanted to play well."

A year ago, Wright went 8-4 during the regular season, then lost in the first round of the state Class 3A playoffs. During the off-season, the returning players believed they could be successful this year.

"We got together during the summer and went to camp -- the Chesapeake Soccer Academy -- as a team," said midfielder Brian Gunter, one of three senior captains (with backs David Blades and Tom Walsh). "It helped us get used to each other."

Blades is a four-year veteran who has seen coach Paul Snyder's program improve dramatically. Against Centennial, for instance, the team has gone from a lopsided loss two years ago to a 3-1 setback last year to Tuesday's tie, a match in which it led on two occasions.

"Things have come together, and already I can say this is a close-knit unit -- the closest of my four years," Blades said.

Gunter added, "We had good preparation for the Calvert Hall game, and the scoreless first half helped our confidence. We began to realize we could play with them."

Blades said, "After playing Calvert Hall, we knew we could take it to Centennial. We looked forward to the chance to play those teams. And, really, we had nothing to lose."

Several of the players said they thought being unranked worked in their favor, and Walsh said the team did not feel like an underdog. "We were really confident before the Centennial game. We believed we could play with them," he said.

The players were quick to cite a common thread through the first three games.

"We were in better shape than the other teams," said Litros, whose soccer skills and toughness belie his trim 5-foot-4 frame. "We have been through a lot of practices, and our conditioning showed."

Several of the players came off a club team coached by Litros' father.

"The good players play year-round now, and I can't say enough for the impact that program has had here," Snyder said.

"In my 26 years of coaching, we'd get seasons when the players and the coach were on the same page -- as long as the coach was around. With this group, we're on the same page all the time. They can take charge and concentrate when the coach isn't around, and they'll correct each other, too."

While making sure not to upset his team's chemistry, Snyder has been able to work a new varsity player into the equation. Junior striker Joe Davis has moved into a starting role. He had both goals against Centennial, brings height (he's 6 feet) to the front line and will help ease the pressure on Litros.

"Centennial marked me [he had four goals against Mount St. Joseph], but now teams will have trouble marking both of us," Litros said.

Among the other players who have come together are club members Jeff Smith and Matt McFarlane, and Peter Troilo, one of a talented group of sophomores and of whom Snyder said, "He is the most composed sophomore I've had."

So how will the Mustangs handle this new-found celebrity status?

"Right now, we have the memories, but we know we have to start over for each opponent," Litros said. "Our goal is to to keep up this intensity."

MIGHTY MUSTANGS

Unranked C. Milton Wright's boys soccer team stunned three ranked opponents in its first three games, getting a win and two ties. The results:

Opponent .. .. .. .. .. Rank .. .. .. .. Score

Calvert Hall .. .. .. .. 1 .. .. .. . 0-0 (OT)

Mount St. Joe .. .. ... 12 .. .. .. .. ... 7-1

Centennial .. .. .. .. .. 2 .. .. .. .. 2-2 (OT)

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