Szymanski gives Liberty hand in staying unbeaten

Throw-in from 30 yards sets up game-winner over Westminster, 2-1

Boys soccer

October 03, 2001|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In Liberty High soccer circles, Dave Szymanski's rifle throw-ins have earned him the nickname "The Catapult." So with the score tied last night against Westminster and the forward set to put the ball in play, teammate Jesse Robinson knew exactly where he belonged.

"My coach just says to stay in front of the keeper," Robinson said.

The positioning paid off, as Szymanski's throw from 30 yards found Robinson at eye level, and the defender headed it in with 28:22 left to give the host Lions a 2-1 win and keep them unbeaten.

"Dave's got the arm, and he's going to let it fly," Robinson said. "I'm just there to see if I can put in the scraps. I know if I don't make it, someone behind me will put the ball in there."

The win improved Liberty to 8-0, including 3-0 in Carroll County and 3-0 in the Central Maryland Conference. For Westminster (2-4, 0-1, 0-1), it was the latest in a series of frustrating one-goal defeats.

"When you play Liberty, part of your game plan has always got to be ... to restrict the number of throw-ins that you give them," Westminster coach Fran McCullin said. "You've got to be smart about not just dumping the ball out, but saving the ball and turning it upfield so that they don't got 15 or 20 opportunities to do that. That works very heavily in their favor."

Near the end of a back-and-forth first half, Liberty took a 1-0 lead when reserve Matt Capeci put in a cross from Jason Engles with 30 seconds left. Just 20 seconds into the second half, however, the Owls tied it on a three-quarters-of-the-field drive culminating in David Ledford's goal off an assist from Kris Harford.

Thanks to several acrobatic saves by Westminster goalkeeper Andy Wu, the score stayed that way until one of several precise throw-ins by Szymanski finally paid dividends.

"You get the balls into the corners, you take people on, and the defender has got to make a great play to keep the ball in without kicking it out," Liberty coach Ed DeVincent said. "We work on set plays in practice, and it pays off."

As in several other games this season, McCullin said he saw much promise in his team. Once again, however, the Owls came away with little to show for it.

"We're a play or two away from being about 5-1," McCullin said. "That's the frustrating part. You look at our record, and our record doesn't say anything for the way this team plays."

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