State title only goal left for Fallston's Giuffrida

October 02, 1994|By Mark Hoeflich | Mark Hoeflich,Special to The Sun

For all his talent, there is one thing that senior and All-County forward Mike Giuffrida has missed at Fallston -- a state championship.

The No. 1 Cougars (3-0-1) came close to a state title a year ago, when Giuffrida finished with 28 goals and 11 assists, but a 3-1 loss to Middletown in the final has Giuffrida -- and the rest of the Cougars -- even more hungry this season.

Giuffrida is quick, can pass, leads by example and has great ability to go in the air and get the ball. But most of all, he has tremendous scoring ability and is out to a fast start with seven goals and two assists, third best in the metro area. Yet none of that matters much to Giuffrida, only winning a state title does.

"We all just want it so bad, I think even more so than last year," said Giuffrida. "I felt we should have won that final game and you don't get a chance to play on a team like this often, so you have to take advantage of it."

Giuffrida, who scored four goals in the Cougars' season-opening win over Hammond, credits Fallston's defense for his productive start, and he has responded in nearly every game with the leadership the Cougars need to get to the top.

"Our defense is solid; it is a wall back there and it just lets us all go forward," said Giuffrida.

Fallston's 1-1 tie with county rival C. Milton Wright on Tuesday was the only game in which Giuffrida hasn't scored, and although he wasn't exactly happy about the outcome, coach Len Petrey thinks Giuffrida will work even harder now.

"Believe me, he didn't like that tie on Tuesday and I think you are going to see him come out more hungry," said Petrey. "He was upset that he didn't score. He wanted to win that game for us and he feels like it is on his shoulders every time to score. Life isn't like that, but he takes on that responsibility."

Clearly, much of Petrey's offense has a lot to do with what Giuffrida can do, but Giuffrida is quick to admit that he is a better player because of the quality athletes that play alongside him.

"Playing with these guys probably makes me the player that I am," said Giuffrida. "My goal is offense and I don't have to worry about getting back on defense. Every player is so good and they have a certain job. It is just my job that gets more recognition."

Petrey said, "Sure a lot of our offense is generated around him, trying to get balls to him where he can play them. We don't usually play with the ball a lot in the back. We try to bring the ball up quick and try to attack."

Petrey has been aware of Giuffrida's scoring ability since he played junior varsity, and Petrey has seen Giuffrida make great strides since joining the varsity last season.

"He's always had the urge to go to the goal and score, but when you step up to the varsity level with tight man marking, he has shown vast improvement," said Petrey, who said Giuffrida will rank among the top five scorers in the school's history by the end of this season.

"He doesn't try to do things with the ball he isn't capable of. He plays within himself and that's a good quality."

If there is one thing that Giuffrida has learned from playing under Petrey, it is to play with pride.

Said Giuffrida: "You can just feel it when you step out on the field. You are on Fallston and you play better. I walk out on the field, and I know the other team is saying this is Fallston and it is not going to be an easy match."

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