Splitting differences, pair has common goal

DeMares, Lauber join skills at Towson

November 07, 2001|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

One came from Barranquilla, Colombia, where he started kicking a soccer ball against walls when he was 2 years old.

The other grew up in Kansas before moving, while in high school, to Colorado Springs, Colo. His first sport was baseball, but he quickly became sold on soccer because of the faster pace.

Alfonso DeMares and Todd Lauber came together at Towson University at the end of the summer of 1998, assigned as roommates in the freshman soccer dorm, with nothing more in common than the fact that they both had practice the next day.

Best of friends since, DeMares, who last week became the program's all-time leading scorer with 122 career points, and Lauber, fourth with 92 points, will be working on extending their stellar four-year careers today at 1 p.m. when the Tigers (12-4-1) play host to New Hampshire (7-7-3) in the opening round of the America East championships.

"Everything is more serious now," said DeMares, who has a team-high 14 goals to go with nine assists this season. "Playing in the playoffs now, every game can be your last, so you don't want it to end quick."

Added Lauber: "It's funny, because all the way from your freshman to junior years, it's just like you want to win, but if you don't, you know there's always next year. Now, there's that sense of urgency because this is it."

That's the two of them: What DeMares finds serious, Lauber can find a lighter side of. Another way to compare the two is to look at how differently they treat a term paper.

"He'd start on it right when it first came out, at least knowing exactly what he's going to do it on and know the due date," Lauber said. "I'd say if it's due in the next week, I'd probably just find out about it then, start working on it and finish typing it up the day before."

Said Towson coach Frank Olszewski: "Todd is as Colorado as you can get. He's got that Rocky Mountain, laid-back style, and Alfonso, he's a typical South American, emotional type. But they met as freshmen coming in the same year and hit it off as an odd couple would. They'll still have their differences because of their differences, but it may last all of 15 seconds."

DeMares and Lauber will joke that the only thing they have in common is that neither is particularly good at heading a ball.

But along with the ability to provide instant offense for the Tigers' attack, similarities can indeed be found. Topping the list is both players' fierce drive.

"He doesn't like losing the ball," DeMares said. "And he brings a lot of positive things to the field and we try to get the best out of each other all the time. So it's nice to have someone to compete against, and I'm glad it's my roommate."

Compete they do, and it can be anything at any time, with something like a simple game of checkers determining who will clean the dirty dishes.

And with that, the banter began.

"I got him in pool and he's got me in racquetball and pingpong," Lauber declared.

"And tennis," DeMares quickly added.

"Oh, no. No - not tennis," Lauber fired back.

So who won the last time? "Me," said DeMares.

And the time before? "Me," added DeMares.

"OK, I guess - just because he has his own racket," Lauber said, finally surrendering.

On the soccer field, they combine their competitive spirits and unique skills and direct it all toward opposing defenses, which often become overwhelmed.

DeMares is the uncanny finisher who often does more at striker and Lauber is the savvy, do-whatever-it-takes midfielder.

"Alfonso is multidimensional in that he obviously is the one who can finish off plays," Olszewski said, "but on the other side of the ledger, he's just as adept at leaving a real nice, weighted pass to someone else if he's not in position to shoot.

"Todd is deceptively quick and has a good sense of where he is on the field as opposed to where the pressure is coming from, so he's able to work himself out of predicaments with very good vision."

On 26 occasions during the past four years, the two have combined for goals, with each scoring 13 times and providing 13 assists. The knack started early, with Lauber finishing off a pass from DeMares in a 1-0 overtime win over Northeastern in the conference playoffs their freshman year.

"I think he's more relaxed with the ball. He likes to distribute the ball and is always looking to find the better option," said DeMares, the America East Player of the Year in 2000.

"I'm more like, get the ball and go forward. I have to go score and that's our difference on the field."

DeMares will get no argument from Lauber on that point.

"He's the game-winner player," said Lauber, who led America East in scoring this season with 13 goals and a Division I-high 12 assists.

"When it's tied or something and we need the goal at the end, he always comes up with the big play somehow. He's always there. It can't be luck when you've done it about 20 times. He's always scoring the winning goal."

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