At last, a year of the Admirals Boys soccer: Severn is best known as a lacrosse school, but this fall, a senior-laden soccer team is drawing new fans as it heads, team members hope, toward a rare title.

October 23, 1997|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Severn boys soccer coach Marc Osterberger started thinking about the opportunity his Admirals had this season the minute after the last one had ended.

The fourth-year coach made sure his team understood ahead of time as well.

"Last year, after the last game, Marc excused the graduating seniors and pulled the rest of us aside -- there was 15 or 16 of us," said senior captain Matt Wright. "He said, 'Take a look at this, next year is our year.'"

After taking their lumps and learning against some more experienced teams in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference in previous seasons, the senior-rich Admirals are making the most of their golden chance this fall.

With the end of October approaching, the Admirals, coming off a 9 -7-1 season in 1996, remain unbeaten at 10-0-4 following their 4-0win at Park yesterday. With three games left in the regular season, they are atop the conference with a 10-0-3 mark.

"Last year, we had a junior-laden team in a conference that was senior dominated," Osterberger said. "We looked around, and Boys' Latin was hit hard [with graduation], St. Mary's lost some good players, and a lot of the others lost a ton of people."

"We sat them down and said, 'Look, lets learn from the past. For three years, we were going up against players a little bigger and a little faster. Now, we're the old men on the block -- it's our turn.'"

Six of the roster's eight seniors start for the Admirals. Sweeper Wright and forwards Matt McFarland (seven goals, five assists) and Neil Bourdelaise (four goals, three assists) provide most of the experience with a combined 138 career starts.

"Now we know what to expect when we jump off the bus at St. Paul's," said Wright, who has 20 goals in his four years on varsity.

Earlier this month, the Admirals hopped off the bus at St. Paul's and left a 1-0 winner on a goal from junior Kyle Hyland. It was the first time since 1992 they had even scored at St. Paul's.

On Sept. 26, the Admirals came away with their first road win at Boys' Latin in 15 years -- by 3-0.

Heads are starting to turn toward the soccer field at Severn, where most of the attention is normally geared toward football until lacrosse season rolls around in the spring.

"There's a special feeling going around. Every day, there's constant awareness -- people know what our record is," said Osterberger. "The biggest example is a lot more people are showing up at our games. Our other teams are taking time out of practice to watch parts of our games. At homecoming on Saturday, nine or 10 former players came back to watch the game. Three years ago, this was a lacrosse school -- period."

The team is enjoying the attention but understands it has plenty of work to do, with goals set at new standards. Last year, the Admirals were not among the top four in the nine-team conference to qualify for the playoffs.

This fall, they are aiming for the first seed, which could help provide Severn's first conference title since 1985, when the Admirals shared the crown with Boys' Latin after a 2-2 tie in the championship.

"The last two years, the soccer team has just run real hard and never gotten anywhere," said senior forward Jeff Haskins, a three-year starter with six goals and nine assists this year. "At the end of the year, it always came down to us having to beat one team or another and another team having to lose.

"Now, teams are looking for us to lose. We know we have to work even harder to win the championship, but our confidence is high."

The secret to success has been simple.

Along with the senior nucleus, the Admirals rely on conditioning to wear an opponent down in the second half. Constant competition in practice helps them stay away from let-downs during games and, with a roster full of three-sport athletes, they're making the most of their resources.

The Admirals are indeed head and shoulders above the rest in the conference this season -- literally.

With six players more than 6-feet tall, they rely heavily on set plays -- long throws and corner kicks -- to produce a lot of goals.

"Every day, we take time in practice to work on our heading," said Osterberger. "With our narrow field, we're able to chuck it and send the 'trees' forward. A lot of our goals come off headers."

Their small field provides them with a big edge, putting more emphasis on gaining the top seed in the conference to assure the home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

Bourdelaise"Throughout the years, there's been a connection with the seniors we now have, and it would be nice to have that moment where we win the whole thing, instead of just having the season end in the last game."

Pub Date: 10/23/97

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