South Carroll serves early notice of power

September 14, 1994|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Sun Staff Writer

Defending county champ South Carroll left the writing on the wall, plain and simple, for all the other county teams to see.

It was actually on the scoreboard in its season opener on Friday: South Carroll 4, Liberty 0.

Senior striker Amber Clutter, last year's Player of the Year in Carroll, showed why she's the dominant player in the county with two goals early in the second half to give the Cavaliers a comfortable 3-0 lead. She has 55 career goals and is just one shy of tying the county record.

Just seeing Kendra Pulis shouting directions in goal was a happy sight to Cavaliers coach Jim Horn. Coming off major shoulder surgery over the winter, there was serious question whether she would be back at full speed. A big save off a Natalie Hannibal shot let everyone know.

Horn also made a number of substitutions seven minutes into Friday's game. There's plenty of depth to go with a strong starting cast whose only major loss to graduation was midfielder Jamie Isaacs.

"The kids have turned it up a notch and have set some goals. We'll see how it comes along," Horn said.

The loftiest goal -- a state title -- doesn't seem out of reach.

A new region playoff format and two new head coaches are the biggest changes in the county.

Any team which applies can participate in the expanded region tournaments. In previous years, only the top four teams -- based on a point system -- qualified for the playoffs in each region. The new format will have a blind draw at the end of the season to seed the teams.

South Carroll, Liberty and North Carroll have been regulars in postseason play the past few years. Westminster and Francis Scott Key were often left behind despite respectable regular-season records.

"I have no arguments," said North Carroll coach Phil Myers.

"I see a lot of positive things out of it. There's always a lot of deserving teams who are left behind because of tough schedules."

The two new coaching changes are at Liberty, where Chuck Martin replaces Lynn Stone, and at Westminster, where Mahmood Ebrahimzadeh becomes the Owls' third coach in three years.

Both new coaches have extensive soccer experience. Martin coached the junior varsity program at John Carroll for six years and Olympic Developmental Programs in Maryland and Delaware.

Most of Ebrahimzadeh's experience was as a player. He's a former World Cup player who also played professionally in Germany. Since moving to Westminster three years ago, he's run a number of youth camps and also has coached a number of recreational teams.

There's always a question as to how players respond to a new coach. The response at both Liberty and Westminster has been positive.

"It's tough on both the players and the new coach," said Horn, in his eighth season at South Carroll. "In my situation, the kids know what to expect going in and we always get the nice turnover. It can be tough on new coaches who want to establish their own system and beliefs. I know down at Liberty they are sorry to see Lynn leave, but also excited to get a coach with so much experience."

The Lions, playing without sophomore sensations Haley DeLaurence and Shanna Ziegenfuss, stayed with the veteran Cavaliers for the first half, but fell victim to Clutter in the second half. DeLaurence will miss the entire season after knee surgery and Ziegenfuss is expected to return up front for the Lions in three weeks.

A special player to look for at Liberty is sweeper Michelle Clawson. The junior improved with every game as a sophomore and stood out in the first half against South Carroll.

Ebrahimzadeh is bringing a new system to Westminster that features short, build-up passing from the back. It proved effective in the Owls' impressive season-opening win against Queen Anne's on Thursday. The Owls already have shown great strides under their first-year coach and should continue to improve as they continue to learn.

It's a familiar story at North Carroll, where the Panthers will rely on an experienced defense to set the tone. Myers has a lot of good all-around athletes and will find the right mix and surprise some teams.

Francis Scott Key already has benefitted from a lighter schedule this season. The Eagles opened against Monocacy Valley Athletic League newcomer Boonsboro last week and enjoyed a big win behind Carri Ryer's five goals. In prior years, the Eagles had the not-so-kind task of opening against powerhouse South Carroll.

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