Filipponi knows how to wrap it up

Boys soccer: The senior has netted a few winning goals for Wilde Lake, which is in contention for the county championship.

October 20, 2002|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Tuesday was Marco Filipponi's mother's birthday.

He gave her a unique present.

The Wilde Lake senior striker scored a goal to beat visiting Hammond, 1-0.

"After I scored I ran by the stands and yelled, `Happy Birthday, mom.' "

His mother, Linda, normally misses his games because of work, but took time off to attend Tuesday's contest, which was made more special because Marco's older brother, Giordano, had flown in from Georgia for her birthday.

It was even more festive because the Wildecats (8-2 overall, 6-2 Howard County) are enjoying one of their best seasons in recent years and have a chance to create a possible four-way tie for the county championship if they defeat Glenelg on Tuesday.

"It was exciting," Linda Filipponi said. "Two guys were charging at him and they collided, and he broke through and beat another player to score."

Giordano also played striker for Wilde Lake before graduating in 1996. He was in the news in the fall of 1995. Earlier that year, he drank a glass of wine with dinner on a school-sponsored trip in France, a violation of the school system's drug and alcohol policy. He was suspended from the team for his senior season.

"My brother told me I have to score all the goals he would have scored had he played that year, plus my own goals," Filipponi said.

So far, he is living up to his brother's wishes.

Filipponi has 13 goals and five assists in just 10 games, and has scored at least once eight times. He netted both goals in a 2-1 win over Centennial, the game-winner in a 2-1 win over Mount Hebron and the game-winner in a 2-1 overtime win over Atholton.

He also scored two goals against Poly, Long Reach and Oakland Mills, and had a hat trick against Westminster.

He already has more goals this season than he scored during his entire previous Wilde Lake career, including his JV games.

Filipponi has used his exceptional speed to score six goals off breakaways.

"I used to miss a lot of breakaways, but Coach [Dave] Nesbitt told me to think that I'm going to score, pick a corner and make sure I pick up my head before I shoot," Filipponi said. "And it was good advice. My hat is off to Coach Nesbitt. He has yelled at me every day in practice, and if not for that, I wouldn't be anywhere."

He said that his older brother has been the biggest influence in his life, however.

"If not for him, I never would have played soccer. I grew up playing soccer with him in the back yard. And I came to every Wilde Lake game to watch him play," said Filipponi, who is seven years younger than Giordano.

The two always were extremely competitive in everything.

"But he says I'm better at soccer than he was at 17," Filipponi said.

Filipponi described how he and his brother made soccer goals out of huge logs and sticks they found in the woods. "There was no net, but the goals were regulation-sized," Filipponi said. "We've moved from that house, but those goals might still be there."

He began playing travel soccer at age 7 with the Soccer Association of Columbia (SAC) Cobras.

Now he plays for the SAC Columbia United under-19 premier team that includes many notable county players, including Wilde Lake teammates Evan Rodway and Scott Musser.

Filipponi credits Rodway and his other teammates for allowing him to have the chances to score. "You need to have a great midfielder like Evan," he said.

Nesbitt describes Filipponi as a "hungry" player who has improved upon his decision-making, knowing when to go to goal with the ball and when to lay it off to a teammate.

"He turns well with the ball, is tenacious, works hard to get to goal, is good in the air and can shoot with either foot," Nesbitt said. "He played well on junior varsity, but it has taken him longer to establish himself on varsity. This is a very good season for him."

Filipponi carries a 3.3 grade-point average and would like to attend Mercer College, a Division I school in Macon, Ga., where his father and brother live.

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