Shaklee making mark on defense Boys soccer: Severna Park senior Reid Shaklee shakes up opposing attacks from his sweeper position -- and often contributes to the offense just for good measure.

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

Most of the time, it's a gifted attacking player that causes opposing teams to adjust. With Severna Park senior Reid Shaklee, sweeper extraordinaire, it's often the other way around.

"He's the best defensive back I've seen in the county in a long time," said Chesapeake coach Earl Eckhardt, in his 14th season. "Reid is very smooth from a technical aspect in that he rarely makes mistakes. And he's just as smooth in the tactical sense because his decision-making is so good. With Reid out there, if you don't change the point of attack and do it quickly, it's very tough to get through."

Take, for example, the Falcons' 3-1 win over Calvert Hall early last month. Shaklee wins a ball at midfield near the left sideline, takes a dribble toward the middle before switching the field to find teammate Joe Weidman with a long ball to the right corner flag. A one-touch from Weidman finds Robi Singh, who heads it home for an early 1-0 lead.

As for the second goal in the win: see goal one.

Jump-starting the No. 6 Falcons' offense is only an occasional hobby for Shaklee, who has two goals and four assists from his sweeper position this season. Frustrating opposing attacks has been his full-time job the past three years at Severna Park.

"Reid has done a super job for us over the years," said coach Don Gregg, who has had a fine tradition of standout sweepers in his 25 years coaching at Severna Park. "He's pretty cool under fire, supports and directs people in front of him well. He's an excellent player who certainly has the capabilities of playing at the next level."

With natural instincts, a poised first touch and an uncanny ability to read a play before it's developed, Shaklee, who has Penn State, Virginia Tech and St. John's at the top of his college list, makes it look easy.

"Sometimes it's hard for people when they're getting a lot of pressure to stay calm. I've had people tell me I have ice water in my veins," said Shaklee, a second-team all-state and all-metro player last season who's been a regular on the all-county first team the past two years.

"I guess it's just because I've played there my whole all my life. Being all the way in the back, you can see the whole field. So you know when to chip to the corners and when to pass through or hit it long."

Shaklee first played the game when he was 4, settled in at sweeper when he started playing club ball for the Severna Park Sting at 10 and -- aside from playing halfback his first varsity season as a freshman -- has been a regular fixture at the sweeper position ever since.

"He had the same instincts then as he does now," said his former Sting coach Mike Mooney, whose son Billy is another vital part of the Falcons' success this season at midfield. "He has a sense of always anticipating what is going to happen next. We were loaded with talented players back then and Reid was a perfect fit at sweeper."

Fast forward to this season, where the Falcons (13-2) begin their quest for a state title Tuesday against Meade in the region playoffs. The program's only state title came in 1983 when they tied Bowie, 1-1, in the championship game. Their last final appearance came in 1996, a 2-1 loss to Montgomery County's fTC Walt Whitman. A strong group of sophomores from that team -- Shaklee, Mooney and Bernie Edwards leading the way -- are now seniors.

The scoring has been well distributed for the Falcons all season. Mooney is often dazzling at midfield and Edwards is as steady as they come. And Shaklee is joined by marking backs Adam Bennett, Sean McGarry and Co. in back, where the Falcons have allowed only 10 goals with eight shutouts.

"There's always been four or five of us that have created a strong nucleus. We're seniors now and have taken on the leadership role," said Shaklee. "Coming toward the end of the year you know it's playoff time and if you lose you're out. You get a different reaction from different players. Some get nervous, some step it up. With the experience of being there before, it makes it that much easier."

Pub Date: 11/01/98

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