No walk-over, Northeast flies to 6-1 Girls soccer: Experience and 'heart-attack' drills are helping turn last fall's one-goal losses into victories for the surprising and fast Eagles.

October 01, 1998|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

What were once long, frustrating bus rides home are now pleasurable joy rides. The hallways at school are filled with thumbs up and pats on the back.

And practices -- even with those nasty sprint drills called "heart attacks" -- are something to look forward to at the end of each school day.

The Northeast Eagles, with a 6-1 mark that already has matched all of last year's wins, are finding out fast what success can bring.

"It feels wonderful," said senior co-captain Tiffany Parker, a standout striker who scored six goals and had three assists last season. "Everybody is always congratulating us, and other teams know we're winning. People are starting to respect us."

Signs of respectability were appearing before the season. In going 6-7 last fall, the Eagles saw 10 of their 13 games decided by one goal. Only two starters graduated, leaving plenty of experienced talent to build on this season.

Fourth-year coach Charles Parks knew all about the speed and finishing ability he had up front in Parker and junior Kim Blotzer. The defense looked set with junior Jen Stylc anchoring at sweeper, senior co-captain Danielle Wanner providing leadership at a fullback spot and goalkeeping in the capable hands of junior Jen Helms and sophomore Rachel Herrich.

Only one question remained -- midfield?

"If the midfield comes together, we'll be able to play," said Parks before the season.

Enter sophomores Erin Gray and Karen Kotofski, who have solidified midfield sooner than anticipated and provided Parker and Blotzer with passes they can finish.

"We're not one of the most skilled teams out there, but we can definitely out-run teams," said Parker, who has five goals and two assists. "We play a 'boot and scoot' game. Everybody knows what we can and cannot do, so we know what kind of passes to give each other."

Added Wanner: "You make do with what you have and work hard as a team. Everybody is playing their hearts out and wants to win. Before, when teams talked about Northeast girls soccer, it was,'Oh, well, we'll walk on them.' That's not happening now, and we're trying to build up pride."

The Eagles had a setback last week when junior midfielder Ashley Anastase was lost for the season with a broken jaw. How they respond will supply an answer to how far they've come as a team.

So far, so good.

In the Eagles' first game without her -- against Annapolis Area Christian on Friday -- they came out flat in a scoreless first half.

"The girls had a meeting at halftime and said this wasn't the way to reward Ashley," aid Parks. "We thought the easiest thing to do was to have each player pick up an extra 5 percent to the 100 percent they're already giving. That should make up for Ashley's loss."

The Eagles won, 1-0, their fifth straight victory and third straight by one goal.

Their toughest stretch of the season starts next Tuesday with No. 7-ranked Severna Park and then continues through two weeks with Chesapeake-AA, No. 8 Arundel and Old Mill.

Those four teams' combined record is 19-6, causing Parks to call them a "murderer's row." But he is confident his Eagles will be competitive.

All those "heart attack" sprints -- sprint to the first line, jog the next, sprint the next, all the way down the field, three or four times a practice -- are paying off.

"We didn't mind all the running before, but it was tough losing. Now running is fun, because we're gaining something from it," said Wanner.

Pub Date: 10/01/98

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