Liberty aims for different ending Soccer: The Lions had a long unbeaten string during the regular season in 1996, but didn't get past the regionals. They want to do better in 1997.

September 21, 1997|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

Liberty already has started its boys soccer season much the same way it did a year ago when it lost early, ran off a nine-game unbeaten string, then was eliminated in a regional playoff shootout against Linganore.

Two weeks ago, the Lions scored five first-half goals in what became a 6-0 season-opening triumph over visiting Glenelg. Five days later, Francis Scott Key got a goal in the final minute to beat the visitors, 3-2. Since then, Liberty has defeated neighborhood rival South Carroll, 1-0, and Atholton, 5-0.

"Key beat us to the ball that night. Maybe we weren't that ready after a 6-0 win," coach Ed DeVincent said.

Senior co-captain Tim Chairs thought, "Maybe we were too confident. We came out flat."

DeVincent added, "Key has a lot of speed, and on its first goal, three defenders let a player get by for a point-blank shot. The second was on a penalty kick, and the winner was a throw-in."

In four games, those are the only goals allowed by junior Craig Rauser, a new starting goalkeeper.

Midfielder Chairs and backs Dale Turek and Mike Reese are the returning starters from a county championship team.

Chairs and Kevin Roy, the other captain, have played soccer together since the third grade. "Turek, Scott Sanders, Mike Haskell -- they've been part of that, too," said Chairs, referring to teammates who had come up through rec ball with them.

"It's a younger group than last year, and maybe others might not think so but there is a lot of experience. Last year, we were a physical team; now we rely on finesse and skills."

To which Roy added, "I think the skills are comparable. We know we can get better, and the potential is there to go at least as far as we did then."

DeVincent, in his second year as head coach after a JV stint, is in the midst of getting a much better look at his team, as it will have had a nine-day break when it meets Urbana on Thursday.

"It comes at a perfect time," the coach said. "We have not had a full, healthy roster yet. This will let us work on conditioning, and ball skills. Besides, we still have to get together, to learn to play with each other."

Additionally, DeVincent is looking for ways to compensate for a lack of team speed. "We are going to have to play a little smarter."

In getting off to a 4-0 start, the Lions have outscored their opposition, 14-3. Senior stopper Haskell and junior forward Rick Wareham have three each, followed by Chairs, senior midfielder Dan Silva, and senior forward Nathan McCullough, two each.

Haskell, a solid player who fits into his position perfectly, is a welcome addition. He had played JV as a freshman, then moved away for two years before returning during the summer.

Liberty had preseason scrimmages with current top-15 entries Calvert Hall and Dulaney, plus Loyola. "They're quality teams, and we got a good look at how the game should be played," Chairs said.

"At times we were able to play with all of them," DeVincent declared. "It showed us the next level. Now, our goal is to get there, too."

Pub Date: 9/21/97

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