Oakland Mills, River Hill drill to offset turf effect on title day Scorpions seek 8th title at UMBC

Hawks shooting for second in three years

Boys soccer championships

November 20, 1998|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Neither Oakland Mills coach Don Shea nor River Hill coach Bill Stara likes the idea that their teams played on natural grass all season but must play on UMBC's artificial turf in tomorrow's state championship games.

But the No. 5-ranked, Class 1A Scorpions (16-2-0) will be ready for Washington County's Williamsport (16-1) in the 5 p.m. game, and the No. 1-ranked, Class 2A Hawks (18-1-0) will be ready for Patapsco (12-4-0) of Baltimore County at 7: 30 p.m.

"Funny things can happen on [synthetic] turf," Shea said. He drilled his team on tennis courts, parking lots and dirt infields this week to prepare them for tomorrow.

Stara practiced his team one day this week at Loyola College's synthetic turf stadium and also wore out two balls practicing on parking lots.

Class 1A game

For Oakland Mills, tomorrow offers the chance at redemption from two straight losing seasons -- only the second time in school history the Scorpions have had back-to-back losing seasons.

Williamsport is a formidable opponent that has scored 83 goals and has fast wing-halfbacks who like to bang the ball around up top. Williamsport is skilled and disciplined and led by first-team All-State forward Matt Bowman.

The Western Marylanders beat common opponent Catoctin, 10-0. Oakland Mills beat Catoctin, 4-0. Williamsport also has five players from the team that defeated River Hill in the state finals in 1996.

But the pride is back at Oakland Mills, the school with the most state boys soccer championships of any, eight.

Another win will bring not only a state title but complete the winningest season in Oakland Mills history.

This year's success is traced directly to coach Don Shea's long-term development of the team's nucleus, which has played together on the Shea-coached Chelsea club team since they were youngsters.

Scorpions goalkeeper Chris Ebeling, midfielders Brian Grund, Steve Blakely, Trevor Shea (the coach's son) and Jeremy Catlin, and fullback Glenn Hayman all have played for Chelsea. Five of them are juniors, and the younger Shea is a sophomore.

His father, in his 13th season at Oakland Mills, has coached four state champions there and one more during a 10-year stint at Elkton. Don Shea's career record is 227-64-18, and he's been selected as this season's small-school Maryland Coach of the Year by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

This is a typical Shea-coached team that emphasizes defense, slide-tackling, strong midfield play, and dead-ball scoring opportunities.

Oakland Mills prefers a narrow field but must deal with a wide UMBC surface on which balls are expected to roll faster and bounce higher. This is the first time the state finals have been contested on a non-grass field, or at UMBC.

Catlin leads the Scorpions with 17 goals and seven assists. Grund has three goals but 15 assists, just four away from the school record. Blakely has seven goals, eight assists. Shea has seven goals, seven assists. And striker Kyle Farmer has nine goals, four assists.

Hayman is the sweeper, and goalkeeper Ebeling has eight shutouts. Oakland Mills has outscored opponents, 47-19. That includes an embarrassing 6-0 loss to No. 4-ranked Mount Hebron. The other loss was to No. 1-ranked River Hill.

Oakland Mills' last state title was in 1995, when the team went 15-2-0 and defeated Middletown for the title -- 2-1 in double overtime.

Class 2A game

River Hill is headed to the state finals for the third time since the school opened three years ago.

River Hill is the only school to win a state title in its second year, and seeks its second state title. The Hawks defeated Easton in the final last season, 5-1.

Their Class 2A opponent tomorrow is Patapsco (12-4), winners of three state titles, the last in 1995 against Wilde Lake. River Hill defeated Patapsco in the state semifinals last season, 3-0.

Patapsco is led by sweeper Chad Clarke, an All-State honorable mention selection. Strikers Joe Pugh (10 goals, four assists) and Greg Hopper (nine goals, seven assists) are the top scorers. The Patriots have outscored their opponents 46-14.

For the second straight season, River Hill has lost just once, this time to No. 4-ranked Mount Hebron, a loss the Hawks avenged in the South region championship game. Their three-year record is 47-6.

The Hawks have a skilled player at every position, including five who played for Shea's Chelsea team -- Aaron Pierce, Justin Gotis, Adom Crew, Elliott Marquis, Brett Endler and Clif Jackson.

It is a team that likes to drive to the corners and score off corner kicks and long throw-ins.

Crew, a national Under-17 pool member and first-team All-State selection, leads the Hawks with 16 goals and 13 assists. Endler is next with 10 goals and 11 assists, followed by Gotis with eight goals six assists, and Randal Brown with five goals, six assists.

Stara, who coached eight state championship teams in his first 16 seasons, the most of any Maryland coach, was the 1997 NSCAA National High School Coach of the Year. This will be his eighth straight state final, including five at Centennial, his previous school. His career record is 244-26-11.

Stara's teams are normally built on defense. But this one is so skilled it controls the ball offensively for long periods, giving the defense a less-than-normal workload.

In fact, Stara has played the season with only three field players in back -- sweeper Marquis, a first-team All-State pick, and wing backs Pierce and Aaron McKinley. Mike Dibella is goalkeeper.

The Hawks are young. Only Brown and McKinley are seniors. The roster includes 14 juniors, four sophomores and a freshman. They have outscored opponents 62-9 and posted 11 shutouts.

Pub Date: 11/20/98

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