Schuchat succeeds taking the hard road Girls soccer: Marissa Schuchat of McDonogh wasn't very good when she started playing soccer -- which just made her more determined to excel in the sport. Her hard work has paid off.

November 01, 1998|By Katherine Dunn | Katherine Dunn,SUN STAFF

McDonogh's Marissa Schuchat tried just about every sport as a youngster, but she found herself drawn to soccer for an unusual reason -- she wasn't any good at it.

Eagles teammate Lauren Paul can vouch for that. In the fourth grade, Paul played on a travel team with Schuchat.

"She was horrible in fourth grade," said Paul with a laugh. "Then I hadn't seen her for four years and we get to tryouts in ninth grade and she's amazing."

Schuchat, a versatile All-Metro senior for the No. 2 Eagles, was initially drawn to the challenge more than the sport. She never met a challenge she wasn't willing to face.

"When I first started playing soccer, I was the worst player. I did not know what I was doing. Other sports came a lot easier like softball and basketball. Soccer was a challenge," said Schuchat.

"I don't like to be involved in things that are too easy. It's more fun when you're challenged. You don't feel the reward when it's simple. The only thing worth going after is something you have to work for."

No one works harder than Schuchat, said Eagles coach Maurice Boylan Jr.

"She's never satisfied," said Boylan.

"No matter how hard she plays, she thinks she could play better. After practice, she's out there into the dark hitting balls. Her work rate is incredible."

Schuchat sometimes shoots at a net in her back yard late at night -- sometimes a little too late for her neighbors. Her mother Fran Schuchat tells of a night when, at about 11 p.m., a neighbor yelled over, "Could you do that in the morning please?"

"Marissa has always operated under the principle that if you want to be the best, you can be, but you have to work at it and earn it," said her mother. "All her life, she's been like that."

However, Schuchat did not have to work for a trip to the World Cup last summer. She won the trip in a sweepstakes and went to Paris with her mom to watch the United States play Germany.

"I'm still shocked," she said. "That was the luckiest thing that's ever happened to me."

On the soccer field, she leaves nothing to luck and the hard work has paid off. A club player since she was 10 years old, Schuchat is a three-time Olympic Development regional team selection from the Columbia Magic.

Her excellent regional ODP reputation, along with a stellar outing at the Washington Area Girls Soccer (WAGS) Tournament two weeks ago and a 3.4 grade-point average, has drawn the attention of many Division I college programs, including Top 25 programs Florida, Penn State and James Madison.

"Marissa does things at a faster pace than the average player and that stands her apart," said Magic coach Roy Andersch. "She's very fast and she's exceptional with the ball at her feet."

She's so quick that her opponents aren't the only ones who have to beware.

"You have to be on your toes when you play with her, because you never know when you're going to get the ball," said Catholic's Allison Merkle, Schuchat's Magic teammate. "You might not think you're open, but she'll find you."

Schuchat's quick, accurate passing is what drives McDonogh's success. At center midfield, she is the consummate team player. Her transition play is even more important than her 27 goals and 15 assists.

This season, she has a 93 percent pass-completion rate. Of the 277 passes she has made, only 21 have gone to the other team.

"She pretty much controls the whole field," said Paul. "Without her, I don't think our pieces would fit together because she's the link. We have offense and we have defense, but she puts it all together."

Pub Date: 11/01/98

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