They're goal-oriented

Scorers: There are different schools of thought on what makes strikers successful. The bottom line: be able to put the ball in the back of the net.

High School Sports

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Boys Soccer

September 04, 2001|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

The most exciting play in soccer? No doubt, it is a striker racing toward the goal and finishing with an explosive shot off a pinpoint crossing pass.

That sight was common last season, when a prolific group of now-graduated strikers, led by McDonogh's All-Metro Player of the Year Kaiser Chowdhry (45 goals), held sway.

Was it just a freak of nature that so many high-profile strikers graduated the same year, or is scoring such a teachable skill that another sizeable pool of scorers is waiting to fill the gap?

Opinions vary.

Hammond junior Kwaku Boateng, a prime candidate to produce big numbers, doesn't think scoring can be taught.

"You just have to have the talent," Boateng said. "The ability to finish is the most important thing for a striker, and that can't be taught. You also have to have vision, speed and skills. You've got to have it all."

Boateng exudes confidence, a trait common among top strikers. "I can score 30 to 40 goals this season. No problem," he said.

Eastern Tech coach Peter Glaudemans differs with Boateng; he believes much about scoring can be taught.

"You can teach positional play, how to receive and turn and accelerate, and how to fend off the defense," he said.

Glaudemans is glowing over the prospect of having two outstanding strikers, Powell Cucchiella and Isaiah Ramsey, both of whom he believes can score 20 or more goals this season.

"Parts of scoring are innate," Glaudemans said. "But coaching can have a huge impact on the success of a striker. Can they learn to break away from the kick-and-run game they played as little kids?"

Cucchiella agrees with his coach that many aspects of scoring can be taught. But foremost on his list of what makes a great striker is something that can't be taught - determination.

"You have to have heart," he said.

Arundel junior James Agorsor, who played the past two seasons for DeMatha, where he scored 36 goals, has the potential to be the best scorer in the area this season. Agorsor believes that what a player has learned is more important than his physical gifts.

"Making quality runs is the most important thing - knowing when and where to make them and how to receive the ball from the midfield," Agorsor said. "You can't take on the whole defense by yourself. You need to be able to make eye contact with your midfielders, read the play and make the run. Skill and technique are more important than speed."

Wilde Lake coach Dave Nesbitt, whose top two scorers last season, Ian Rodway and Michael Dello-Russo, are now playing for Maryland, thinks speed is overrated.

"Technique is the most important thing," Nesbitt said. "That enables you to play at the pace required. Reading the game makes up for lack of speed."

Speed, however, is a trait high on most lists of what makes a successful striker.

Hammond coach Trevin London believes that speed is No. 1, and that finishing can be taught - somewhat. But it's an intangible that he believes may be most important.

"You can't teach instinct. A striker has to be hungry - like a caged animal. He has to have a smell for scoring."

Whatever traits a striker must have, there are a number of players in the area this season with the ability to finish.

Calvert Hall picked up a striker from Easton, junior Kyle Wise, who might provide the scoring punch it needs in the tough Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference.

And Mount Hebron, last season's top-ranked team and sporting an 18-game unbeaten streak, returns second-team All-Metro striker Mike Glancey (16 goals).

Coaches disagree on what makes the best striker. Perhaps there is no right answer. But they all agree in the end strikers are judged by one thing: putting the ball in the net.

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