With Crawford on wing, AACC men are soaring

September 23, 1994|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Sun Staff Writer

It seemed like a bad idea at the time.

Accustomed to playing forward, Pat Crawford found himself being moved to a wing-midfield position for his sophomore season at Anne Arundel Community College.

To coach Ken Wolf, this was a way to use Crawford's speed, conditioning and defensive skills.

To Crawford, it meant more anxiety and fewer goals.

"Initially, I really didn't want to do this," said Crawford, who tied a school record last year by scoring four goals in one game, a 7-3 victory over Prince George's. "I was nervous about it. But I didn't want to cause any controversy, so I did what was best for the team."

And, as it turns out, for himself. Crawford has scored six goals in six games, and the Pioneers -- coming off a 10-11-1 season -- are 4-1-1.

"I didn't like it at first, but I love playing there now," he said. "I'm not fully used to it yet, but it's coming along."

Wolf said the switch was made to give the Pioneers a "quicker counter-attacking ability."

"He has good speed. And in order to play the wing-midfield position, you have to recover well defensively, which he does, and play aggressively," he said.

"Sometimes, forwards have a tendency to be one way, they don't play to check back defensively, but Pat does that. He also has a nice, hard shot and he finishes well. He

has all the characteristics of being a forward, but we thought he could help the team better if he played at wing-midfield. It was just a matter of how he would adjust to that."

All indications are that Crawford has made the adjustment.

He went scoreless in Anne Arundel's first two games while concentrating more on his defensive responsibilities, then netted one goal at Delaware Tech, two against Charles and three against Burlington (N.J.). He had an assist in Monday's 3-0 win over Dundalk.

"Once I scored that first goal, I got over the hump and it was all downhill from there," he said.

Crawford, who played two years at Old Mill after transferring from Arundel, had seven goals last season, so his offensive production hasn't suffered. If anything, the change has enhanced it, especially because he doesn't have as strong a defensive player marking him at midfield.

"He's finding himself being able to get open a little easier," Wolf said.

And by spending more time on the flank, Crawford at 5 feet 8, 135 pounds, isn't exposed to as much punishment. Not that he worries about such things.

"I've always been told that I'm small and I like to prove people wrong about that," he said. "If you have the drive to do something, you can do it as long as you set your mind to it."

When he came to Anne Arundel, Crawford had his mind set on playing baseball -- he was a left-handed pitcher at Old Mill -- but

joined the soccer team a week into practices.

"I was playing fall baseball and I had played it all summer," he said. "I've always liked soccer a lot better, but I had to work and really couldn't do it. do it. Then, I saw them practicing and said, 'I can't watch this.' And that was it."

His playing time at Old Mill had been limited. As a senior, he scored the Patriots' first two goals in a 4-0 upset of Severna Park in the Class 4A Region IV semifinals, but even then, he spent much of the game on the sidelines.

"I came from Arundel and had to start all over again," he said.

Wolf knows this much about Crawford: "He's doing it all for us this year."

The move to a new position, as it turned out, wasn't such a bad idea after all.

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