1997 All-Howard County girls soccer team

November 20, 1997|By RICK BELZ AND STAN RAPPAPORT

Co-players of the year

Amanda Berman, Wilde Lake, senior, forward: She did it all, and so well. Berman was used all over the field -- up top, in the middle, and for a couple games, at sweeper -- and still managed to lead the county in scoring with 19 goals and 13 assists. "She played a lot of roles for us," said Wilde Lake coach Anita Andersch. "She was a very good leader." Berman worked hard to score, and she earned the reputation of one of the state's top finishers. But she also was an unselfish player who could deliver outstanding passes. "She's quick, has good vision and an excellent first touch on the ball," said Andersch. Berman is a four-year starter and a three-time first-team All-County selection. Berman teamed with her twin sister, Abby, and fellow senior Bridget White as captains. "They made a big difference on and off the field," Andersch said. "They made it a pleasure to coach." Watching Berman also was a pleasure. With the ball on her foot, she made things happen.

Kathy Gaertner, River Hill, senior, midfield: She had a great season. Period. Game after game after game, Gaertner came through. "She never had a bad one," said River Hill coach Cynthia Odell, whose second-year team won county and region titles and tied for the state crown. Gaertner is not flashy, but she's driven to do whatever it takes to win. She scored River Hill's only goals in its state tournament semifinal win over Loch Raven and its tie in the championship against South River. "Outstanding, superb. I don't know what else to say," Odell said. "She just gave the team everything she had, plus more. She's very smart, like a coach on the field. She was just a pleasure to coach." Gaertner distributed the ball very well to her teammates, especially to the outside. She took all the corners -- she beat Mount Hebron in overtime with a corner shot that found the net -- and most of the direct kicks. "She's a complete player," Odell said. Gaertner, a defender at Glenelg for two years, is a four-time All-County first-team selection. Gaertner had nine goals and 15 assists. Odell said Gaertner and fellow center-midfielder Caitlin Bair proved to be a great combination. "They played very well together," Odell said. "They did an incredible job."

Coach of the Year

Steve Matters, Oakland Mills: One of Matters' favorite sayings before a big game is: "We'll show up," and the Scorpions always do. Some may not like Matters' kick-and-run style, but his teams are prepared to play the type of game he wants, and that's to his credit. The players know their roles and play as hard and aggressively as they can. The Scorpions have finished second in the county the last two years and have won four straight region titles. In the last four state tournaments, Oakland Mills has won a title (1995), finished second (1994) and lost twice in the semifinals (1996, 1997). Matters' five-year record is 51-23-8. "He makes us more mentally tough," said junior sweeper Kate Anderson, adding that Matters "makes us a team. He doesn't favor any one player. Everybody is important." A former football coach who still likes to bark at times, especially at referees, Matters cares more about just how his players perform. "He keeps us in check," said senior Leslie Miller. "If you're slacking off [on grades], he'll let you know. He's interested not only in our athletics but our academics, as well." Matters was joined on the sideline this season by his daughter, Nicole, a volunteer assistant coach.

The first team

Jane Williams, Centennial, junior, forward: "She had a lot of key goals," Centennial coach Mike Senisi said. "She always managed to be involved in a goal in a big game." A two-time first-team All-County pick, Williams had six goals -- second best on the team -- and three assists. "She's our go-to person up top," Senisi said. "Her first touch is very nice, and she has great one-on-one skills."

Leslie Miller, Oakland Mills, senior, forward: A four-year starter, Miller played defense her first two seasons and was one of the county's best marking backs. She moved to offense last year and was the team's leading scorer, a feat she repeated this fall with 12 goals and four assists. Miller has excellent skills and plays hard. "She's an example of what Oakland Mills soccer is all about," said Scorpions coach Steve Matters. "The team comes first, the individual second and certain guidelines are kept, too."

Natalie Cox, River Hill, senior, forward: "A smart player, with a level head. She was very coachable," said River Hill coach Cynthia Odell about her only senior forward. Cox scored 10 goals and helped the younger forwards around her. "If the team started to panic, she had the ability to offer good words to soothe them. She was good about that," Odell said. Cox showed a lot of desire, and her skills and speed made her a threat to score.

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