Fresh start for N. County Severna Park strong

September 13, 1994|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Sun Staff Writer

One thing Mike St. Martin won't have to worry about as the replacement for Steve Malone as boys soccer coach at North County is getting his team in the playoffs.

That will happen no matter who is in charge. It's not exactly a pressure-filled task.

Under a new state rule, any team registering by Oct. 1 is eligible for the region tournament. Records don't matter. Just fill out the paperwork and show up on time.

And with the seedings determined through a random draw, the number of wins that a team accumulates is even less important. For a new coach, that can be a huge relief.

St. Martin was offered the North County job in July after Greg Helms, who originally had accepted the position, turned it down because of a work conflict. And he inherits a team decimated by graduation.

"Taking over the program is a challenge to me because they lost so many guys," said St. Martin, who must replace All-Metro midfielder Chris Cosentino, the only county player chosen to the All-State first team, and second-team All-Metro fullback Corey Houghton, among others. "I only have four seniors, so this is basically my team."

St. Martin, whose father, Art, is the women's basketball coach at Catonsville Community College and formerly was the girls basketball coach at Brooklyn Park, isn't the only newcomer, but he has the biggest shoes to fill.

Malone had been coaching for 27 years; the first 23 at Andover. Two years ago, the Knights made the state playoffs. Last season, they lost to Severna Park in the 4A East Region final, 5-4, in two overtimes.

By contrast, there isn't as much being asked of John Camm, who is the latest coach to walk through the revolving door at Glen Burnie, taking the place of Ed Leibe. "We're happy with how they've looked so far," said Camm, an assistant at Severna Park for nine years.

Last year, Camm watched the Falcons get to the state final, where nationally ranked Winston Churchill prevailed, 6-3. That makes Severna Park 0-6-1 in state-championship games.

And the Falcons lost two first-team All-Metro players -- one to graduation, the other to baseball.

Fullback Bryce Poland, who helped Severna Park register seven shutouts, was a senior. Striker Scott Neuberger (16 goals, three assists) had another year of eligibility, but decided to play fall baseball. An All-Metro outfielder, he figured baseball might land him a college scholarship.

Coach Don Gregg's troubles don't end there. Also gone from last year's team are second-team All-County picks Matt Swift (forward) and Bob Habicht (midfield). But he received some good news when Jimmy Himes, a second-team All-County forward, transferred from Annapolis Area Christian School.

"We're going to be respectable," Gregg said.

Everyone else is saying the Falcons will be better than just respectable.

Many of these same coaches are lamenting the talent they lost to graduation. All but two of the 15 players chosen first-team All-County were seniors, with Neuberger and Chesapeake goalkeeper John Smith being the exceptions. Four of the 15 who were second-team All-County were juniors: Himes, midfielder Kelly Harris of Severna Park, midfielder Charles Ross of Archbishop Spalding and goalkeeper Danny Collins of St. Mary's, who elected to play football.

Chesapeake lost to North County, 3-2, in the region semifinals, then lost first-teamers Erik Dahlen (forward) and Sean Murphy (defense) to graduation. Old Mill fell to Severna Park, 3-0, in the semifinals, then had first-teamers Bob Thomas (forward) and Mike Mazzola (midfield) and second-teamers Drew Lewis (defense) and Ruben Torres (defense) depart. Mazzola also had been named second-team All-Metro.

Broadneck didn't come away unscathed, either. Gone are first-team All-County picks Josh Good (midfield) and Yancey Quigley (defense). Quigley also was second-team All-Metro.

North County also had to bid farewell to first-team All-County forward Emmanuel Uche, second-team forward Troy Hoskins and second-team midfielder Ryan Seggerty.

Annapolis' defense was weakened with the loss of David Winegrad, a first-team All-County and second-team All-Metro pick. And Meade lost two first-team All-County selections, forward Andre Wise and midfielder Rob Dey, and second-team defender Richard Hegmann.

Despite the losses to graduation, no one needs to worry about missing the playoffs.

"There are 100 reasons why I like this new format," said Meade coach Mike Dey, whose team barely missed the playoffs last year. "I don't have the pressure that I've felt in the past. I used to find myself saying that every game was a must-win."

Annapolis coach Dave Gehrdes can see the new arrangement benefiting a team that starts slowly.

"Some people are asking what's the use of playing the regular season," he said. "The incentive, especially for a team with younger kids, is getting better."

Gregg said, "The two best teams should be rewarded by getting a bye."

"One game isn't that important anymore," said Old Mill coach Don Hobbs. "You could be 0-12, but if you peak at the end, that's what counts. But you always want to win. No one goes into a game not wanting to win."

Two private schools that didn't win much last year have new coaches. At Severn, Marc Osterberger replaces Wayne Sanchez. And Jamie McNealey, a former soccer and lacrosse standout at Severn, has taken over for Brent Boone at St. Mary's.

Both schools will compete in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference.

Osterberger played soccer at Oakland Mills in Howard County and Radford (Va.) University. This is his first time coaching at this level, and he is implementing a new, defense-oriented system.

McNealey already has gotten off to a rough start. The Saints' leading scorer from last year, Chris Cannella, is out for the season with a knee injury.

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