Kuhn and Cougars escape 'Jungle' to take county title God-luck charm: The top scorer for No. 2 Chesapeake's soccer team is a little superstitious about his favorite T-shirt.

October 26, 1995|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

It was moments before the Anne Arundel County boys soccer championship game Tuesday night and Rich Kuhn was being Rich Kuhn during warm-ups with his Chesapeake teammates.

He was wearing a black T-shirt that said "Welcome to the Jungle," dancing in front of the goal, doing all kind of tricks with the ball and simply having fun before another confrontation with Severna Park.

The T-shirt made him appear to be a little out of step with the other players, but Kuhn doesn't march to the beat of a different drummer. He is just superstitious and a bit adventuresome on and off the field.

The T-shirt is a good-luck charm that Kuhn has worn on every game day during his two years on the Cougars' varsity. He has helped them post a 27-3-1 record that includes a 3-1-1 mark against vaunted Severna Park.

Chesapeake is 13-0 and has risen to the No. 2 ranking in the metro area. The Cougars won the county title Tuesday night with a 3-2 double-overtime victory over Severna Park at Arundel High.

Kuhn, a junior midfielder, has 12 goals and four assists to lead the team and is the career goal-scoring leader (20) at Chesapeake.

So the T-shirt stays.

And why does it say "Welcome to the Jungle?"

"Our home field was named the jungle a long time ago," said Kuhn. "Because our fans are kind of wild. I keep on wearing the shirt for good luck. I'm superstitious."

When told that his coach, Earl Eckhardt, referred to the shirt as "funky," Kuhn laughed a little and was unfazed.

When Eckhardt was asked what makes Kuhn tick as a soccer player, he said: "It's hard to describe him. He has an uncanny knack for getting to the ball, has a great sense of the field and a good understanding of the game."

Early in the season, it was thought that Kuhn was scoring many of his goals because the opposition was stacking its defenses to shut down senior forward Ryan Frommelt, last year's leading scorer with 11 goals and six assists.

Eckhardt said that reasoning was a little unfair to Kuhn.

"He's made goals for himself," said Eckhardt. "He was outstanding against Broadneck, scoring two goals, and has shown himself to be an outstanding soccer talent."

That ability just may earn Kuhn an all-expenses-paid skiing trip to Colorado this winter, courtesy of his brother Dan, who played soccer for Chesapeake and graduated from Elon (N.C.) College.

"If I get 20 points, he'll give me the skiing trip," said Kuhn whose 12 goals and four assists give him 16 points entering the playoffs.

"I like to ski and take chances on and off the field. I'll do things others won't do like practice a lot. Nothing wild, just things that might help me, like trying to run on my toes more to improve my quickness.

"I don't think I'm fast. I think I get the job done with a lot of hustle and a lot of heart."

Being 6-foot-2 also doesn't hurt when it comes to going up for head balls.

"I like getting up and heading the ball," said the slender, 140-pounder who credits his knowledge of the game to backyard sessions with father Rich and brothers Dan and Dave, who both played before him at Chesapeake.

"We had a lot of workouts in the yard and they showed me a lot," said Kuhn.

Even though he has already climbed to the top of the Chesapeake career goal-scoring ladder, Kuhn feels his best game is still to come.

"The most emotional was beating Severna Park for the county title this year," he said. "But I don't think I've played my best game yet. I'd love to be good enough to play soccer in college at either Indiana or Kentucky some day."

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