Severna Park trying for state championship magic Team has best chemistry of his top clubs, coach says

Boys soccer

November 15, 1996|By Pat O'Malley | Pat O'Malley,SUN STAFF

If ever a boys soccer team and its coach were due to win a state championship -- and deserved to win -- No. 6 Severna Park and Don Gregg fit the description.

Gregg (236-80-11 over 23 years) and his Falcons (13-3) go after the Class 4A state championship at 7: 30 p.m. tomorrow at Old Mill against Montgomery County's Walt Whitman (11-5-1).

A very young Severna Park team (14 underclassmen, including seven sophomores and one freshman) advanced by nipping High Point (13-2-1) of Prince George's County, 1-0, while Whitman bounced Perry Hall, 4-1, in Monday's semifinals at Arundel.

In posting their fourth shutout of the season, the Falcons stymied an explosive High Point offense that, coming into the semifinals, had scored 84 goals to Severna Park's 33.

Whitman, seeking its fourth state title, started the season 2-5-1, but has won its last nine under coach Dave Greene. Matt Gormley is the Vikings' big gun with 15 goals and 19 assists.

A year ago, the Falcons lost in the semifinals, 1-0, to Prince George's County's Northwestern, the eventual state champion.

Gregg's Falcons last played in a state final in 1993, losing to another Montgomery County team, nationally-ranked Churchill, 6-3. That loss continued the Falcons' futility in the big one; they're 0-6-1 in seven chances.

In 1983, with All-Metro midfielder and county player of the year Brad Murray (13 goals, six assists) leading the way, Severna Park battled Bowie to a double-overtime tie and co-state championship.

"I've got a picture of that [in mind] -- can still see it," said Gregg. Severna Park had completed its first undefeated season (14-0-2) and its highest end-of-season ranking (No. 2 in The Sun poll behind 15-1 Centennial), but still lacked that coveted crown.

Just the year before (1982), Bowie had outlasted Severna Park, 2-1, in double overtime for the state title.

In 1988, the Falcons took a 14-0-1 record into the final against Rockville and dropped a 2-1 heart-breaker. A 2-0 loss to Whitman followed in the '89 final.

Is this finally the year?

"This team has more chemistry and 'the magic,' " said Gregg after Monday's semifinal triumph. "Some of the teams in the past didn't have 'the magic.' It's here this year."

Senior co-captain Jimmy Traylor, a three-year starter and Maryland Association Coaches of Soccer All-State midfielder, said this year's team "is closer" than any he has played on.

"There seems to be more communication on this team," he said, "and I guess it's because a lot of us played together on club teams coming up."

Traylor is the conductor, roaming the field and bringing everything together.

Sophomore striker Jon King leads the team in scoring with eight goals, followed by Traylor and junior Adam Young, with six goals each. Another 10th-grader, Bill Mooney, has scored five times.

Defensive standouts include senior stopper Jason Polm, who injured an ankle against High Point but is expected to play tomorrow, and sophomore backs Reid Shaklee and Sean McGarry.

Junior Keith Brunst and senior Frank White have split time in goal, often taking a half each, as they did against High Point. The Gregg tactic has worked, because the Falcons have given up only 17 goals in 16 games. The team has played nine games decided by one goal, winning seven of them.

Before the season, Gregg said that "we are rebuilding with some quality players," but not even the coach expected to be in this year's state final. As it turns out, this team is so young, it may be oblivious to the pressure.

Pub Date: 11/15/96

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