Ulman is the driving force behind No. 1 Centennial's campaign

October 27, 1994|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Sun Staff Writer

Doug Ulman has a strong presence on or off the soccer field. And because he's interested in politics, don't be surprised if he is a governor or a congressman someday.

As senior captain for the top-ranked Centennial boys soccer team, Ulman has the task of organizing Centennial's practices. It's a job that sometimes makes him unpopular among his teammates.

If coach Bill Stara wants soccer goals moved, Ulman has to assign people to move them.

This makes him the target of some barbs. He's already building the thick skin that a politician needs to survive.

"I don't just make anyone captain," Stara said. "It's the biggest compliment I can give a player. It indicates my respect."

Ulman is a vocal captain. When the team disembarked from the bus for a county championship-clinching game at Glenelg Monday, it was Ulman's voice that rang out: "We're going to have a different bus on the way back so don't leave any equipment."

Usually a coach has to make that reminder. Stara doesn't.

As captain, Ulman also has to demonstrate by example and be the ultimate team player. So when Stara decided to shake up the midfield three games back, and Ulman was moved from center midfield to defensive stopper, Ulman accepted the move even though it likely meant he'd have less opportunity to score.

"I didn't like it at first, but when I get the ball at stopper I do have more time to look. It's easier for me," he said.

Ulman thinks his strengths as a player are distribution and field sense, and because Centennial (10-0-2) is using its defense to control the ball a lot, he fits into his new role well.

"He's mature for his age, has the ability to read the game and anticipate, and is always there to intercept the ball or to step up and tackle," Stara said.

"He's done well at his new position. He can switch the play or bring it out and move it around. He's the key figure in keeping the ball going and services quite a few balls from back to midfield."

Part of Ulman's success at the new position is that he has so many fine defensive players around him such as Kumi Walker, Cort Yetso, sweeper Ben Stephenson and goalkeeper Brock Yetso.

Walker and Cort Yetso can mark the other team's forwards and Stephenson and Brock Yetso are so reliable that Ulman has a lot of freedom to float.

"The other quality players make him look good and he makes them look good," Stara said. "It's a nice blend."

And Ulman still is scoring goals. He had two on Tuesday against Glenelg, and now has six to go with two assists. He took only two shots against Glenelg.

"I have to make all my shots count now because I don't get too many," Ulman laughed.

After starting most of his freshman season, Ulman led Centennial in goals scored (nine) his sophomore year when he was an All-County pick as the Eagles won a state title.

But the high expectations of last season turned into a nightmare after he and two teammates were suspended and missed most of the season.

Ulman's nightmare was compounded by his involvement in two automobile accidents that left him in physical therapy for almost six months.

Ulman has accepted his misfortune and moved on.

Stara thinks that Ulman's best performance at stopper was in the second half in the Eagles' 1-0 victory over nationally ranked Walt Whitman.

Centennial went into a defensive shell in the second half to protect the 1-0 lead, and Ulman helped to fend off numerous Whitman challenges.

But Ulman thinks his best game was against Oakland Mills, when he stopped speedsters Zuri Barnes and Jason Gotis in another Centennial shutout against a team Ulman thinks is the second-best in the county.

Off the field, Ulman is president of the Howard County Association of Student Councils, which he says takes about an hour a night of his time. He's also a member of Centennial's human relations team that teaches multi-culturalism to freshmen. He's eyeing a career in law or politics and is considering Brown, Georgetown, Maryland, Lafayette and the University of New Hampshire.

The Dorsey's Search resident grew up in Columbia and started playing soccer at 5 and plans to continue playing in college.

Last spring he played for the Bethesda Wizards club soccer team, and the year before that he played for the Columbia Phoenix.

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