Picarde steps up as scorer

October 04, 1994|By Roch Eric Kubatko | Roch Eric Kubatko,Sun Staff Writer

Jamie McNealey didn't get a chance to see much of Steve Picarde during preseason scrimmages because nagging injuries kept the senior forward on the sidelines.

The less he saw, the better.

"That was good," said McNealey, St. Mary's first-year boys soccer coach, "because we got a nice surprise."

A shock is more like it.

Picarde ranks among the metro area's leading scorers with seven goals and three assists, and the Saints (5-0-1) have nearly tripled their win total of last season, when they went 2-13-1.

He has at least one point in every game, including a goal off a direct kick with less than 15 minutes remaining last Tuesday that lifted the Saints over Friends, 1-0. This is his fourth year at the varsity level, but the most goals he ever scored in a single season was four, as a junior.

"Everybody's been hustling, that's the main thing," he said. "Everybody's getting the ball up and I've been fortunate to be able to finish them all."

Said McNealey: "He definitely improved his game far beyond what both of us imagined."

Did anyone imagine that St. Mary's would be unbeaten going into October? Remember, this is a squad that lost its leading scorer, Chris Cannella, to a season-ending injury, and its goalkeeper, Danny Collins, to the football team.

Even a drop to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference didn't look like much of a reprieve. But some good must have come out of the many "demoralizing" losses of last season, McNealey said.

"Last year, everyone became really motivated after taking so many close losses," he said. "There's some kind of karma; we're all blending at the right time. It's a very good atmosphere."

Picarde has much to do with the positive vibes. He has become a team leader -- a necessity with the departures of Cannella and Collins -- as well as a dependable scorer.

"I've been trying to step up," he said. "As soon as Chris went down, I kind of put it on myself to take up the scoring role. That was his role last year, basically."

But before he gives himself too much credit, Picarde quickly adds, "It hasn't been a one-person thing. Everybody's contributed."

One look at Picarde, 5 feet 9 and 155 pounds, and it's easy to see why opposing defenses have been unable to stop him. He's quick, he moves well without the ball and he has tremendous foot skills.

And that's only the beginning.

"He's an all-around good athlete, which might be his best attribute," McNealey said. "He can dominate the last quarter of the field. He's just a pleasure to watch."

That's one thing Picarde can't stand to do -- watch. Having to spend time on the sidelines, especially when the Saints struggled, was almost unbearable.

"I felt like I had to get out there and do something," Picarde said. "When I saw how good our team could be, I was just dying to get on the field."

If only the other teams could find a way to get him to leave.

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