Depleted Eagles find way to soar

Girls soccer: Led by determined scorer Amy Hendricks, defending league champ Annapolis Area Christian has overcome losing seven seniors only to go undefeated through 12 games in 1999.

October 24, 1999|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

About the only question Annapolis Area Christian coach Paul Brophy had an answer for going into the season: Who would score the goals?

After watching Amy Hendricks race past defender after defender and put the ball in the net 31 times in her junior season, that was an easy one.

Others weren't quite as simple.

Going 14-2 and winning their second straight Tri-State Soccer League crown in 1998, the Eagles lost 10 players in all -- including seven seniors, and six of them made the league's All-Star team.

Fast-forward to today, where the Eagles are coming off an 11-0-1 regular season and are preparing to defend their league title starting tomorrow.

"How we got these results I still don't know. They just seem to make it all happen," Brophy said.

With a tougher non-league schedule, Brophy was aiming for a .500 or so season and to have his Eagles playing their best ball come playoff time.

He had several questions to answer:

Who would step in to fill those voids, particularly in goal where standout Jessi Seep departed?

What about this year's team depth, a strength last season?

Where would the leadership come from?

Junior Emily Boone accepted the duty in goal after playing center midfield previously, and a handful of freshmen and sophomores filled the other gaps.

During the season opener against Grace Brethren, some of the remaining doubts were eliminated thanks largely to some second-half magic from Hendricks.

"Four days before our first game Amy was in a car accident," said Brophy, noting she had a sprained wrist, bruised hip and a torn muscle in her abdomen.

"She played three or four minutes in the first half and a girl took her down from behind right on the hip."

Losing 2-0 at the half, Brophy figured it would be best to pull Hendricks with the entire season to consider.

Hendricks had other plans.

"She gave me this look at halftime and said `We're not going to lose today -- that's not OK with me,' " said Brophy.

One half later, the Eagles were celebrating a 3-2 win with Hendricks supplying inspiration, leadership and all three goals.

"Amy's a team player as well as a scorer," Boone said. "For her to be hurt and still play like that, it showed us everyone can try to do the same. That helped us out a lot."

Hendricks considered it just another routine day at the office, describing how she got through a couple of defenders to score the game-winner, only after being pressed again and again for the specific details.

"I just really wanted to play. It's my senior year, we want to go out big," she said. "Any time someone on the field steps it up, it helps the rest of the team. If I can go out and play my hardest, the whole team will, too."

Since the opener, the Eagles have defeated Severn, 2-0, for the first time and recorded 10 shutouts. And Hendricks, with 23 goals and five assists, has led an offense that has scored 37 times.

Hendricks, who has won the league's Most Valuable Player award the past two seasons, has made plenty happen in her four years up front for the Eagles.

Speed was her biggest attribute when she came in as a freshman and scored six goals. It remains so, but all the other ingredients required to be a pure finisher have also developed.

"She worked with a personal trainer over the summer and is faster and stronger. This season, she has more power on her shot and her speed to get by defenders is that much better," Brophy said. "She's smarter, too. Before she would sometimes blast the ball and half the time it would miss and the other half it would be right at the keeper. Now, she glances up to find the keeper and can place it."

"It always feels good anytime you score, but it takes all of us to do it," said Hendricks, who has 70 career goals. "I guess my speed is a big factor and with determination, you get the ball in the net. I'm a lot more confident now and have developed a lot more skills."

Hendricks, who visited Towson University on Friday, would like to play for a Division I college next fall, with plans to study physical education and hopes of someday getting into coaching.

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