First Team

All-metro Soccer - Boys

December 17, 2004|By Rick Belz

Steve Basso

Hammond, forward

To beat Hammond, opposing teams knew they had to try to stop the senior, who returned this season from playing in Germany to become Howard County's Player of the Year.

He helped the Golden Bears, 3-11 last season, to an 8-2 league record, just a half-game away from winning a county title behind Howard powers River Hill and Mount Hebron.

Hammond was the only team to beat Class 3A state champion River Hill, and he had the game-winning assist. Basso scored eight goals, more than half his team's total of 15, and five of them were game-winners, including four in 1-0 games. He also had two assists, and played sweeper late in games to protect leads.

Scott DeFrances

Atholton, defense

The senior set the tone with aggressive play in back, smothering potential shooters, directing the defense and clearing balls with a stunningly powerful foot. He could also jump above the crossbar and was tough to beat in the air.

If championships are won on defense, then he certainly was the key to No. 9 Atholton's Class 2A state title, their first since 1990. His excellent ball control allowed him to push forward to midfield when his team trailed, and he finished with six goals and five assists.

Assigned to take his team's long kicks and penalty kicks, the fourth-year varsity player scored a game-winning penalty kick against Calvert in the playoffs.

Alex Horwath

McDonogh, goalie

A dominant force when it came to commanding his box, the long-armed senior gobbled up every throw-in and penalty kick and allowed only seven goals while compiling a school-record 15 shutouts.

Committed to Connecticut, the rugged 6-foot-3, 180-pound captain had a 97-percent save average in his first healthy season since his freshman year. He recovered from brain surgery during his sophomore year, after a severe concussion caused him to go temporarily blind.

He finished his career with 43 shutouts and one Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference title.

Shawn Houseknecht

Arch. Curley, forward

A fiery, four-year starter, he endured two losing seasons before leading the No. 7 Friars to back-to-back winning seasons. They were 18-8 this season after going 22-1-2 a year ago.

His poise and ability to use either foot made him tough to defend with his back to the goal. His unselfishness went hand-in-hand with his strong distribution skills.

Houseknecht scored in 13 of Curley's 26 games and he had a goal or an assist in 17. He had three multiple-goal games, including one hat trick, and finished with 17 goals and 14 assists. For his career, he scored 42 goals and had 34 assists.

T. J. Jager

Loch Raven, defense

He seemed omni-present, roaming everywhere from his sweeper position to take free kicks and corner kicks that he blasted high and far. Jager led the No. 13 Raiders to 15 wins and 14 shutouts, and was their second-leading scorer with eight goals and 10 assists, including a game-winner against Centennial.

Utilizing his mobility, field sense and aggressiveness, he stifled opposing teams, and his knowledge of the game made him a virtual coach on the field.

A four-year starter, he played forward for two losing seasons before switching to sweeper and turning around the Raiders, who produced 28 combined wins his junior and senior seasons. He's looking to play at Towson.

Justin Lichtfuss

McDonogh, defense

The four-year starter absorbed attack after attack from his central defender's position, forcing opponents to cough up the ball before they could shoot.

In his first healthy season since his freshman year, McDonogh's unsung hero proved to be one of the best pure defenders the school has had. He scored one goal and had one assist.

Chosen first-team All-South and first-team All-State by the Maryland Association of Coaches of Soccer, Lichtfuss can claim a good share of credit for McDonogh's school-record 15 shutouts. He will play at Wake Forest.

Nino Mangione

Calvert Hall, defense

Like an unwelcome house guest, the senior sweeper was always showing up where opponents didn't want him to be. His knack for anticipating a play's flow and then dismantling it, was the force that drove No. 3 Calvert Hall to the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship game, which it lost to McDonogh, 3-0.

A two-year starter, the team captain's hallmarks were his leadership and vision. He also had the speed, strength and toughness to take command of a game. He went forward when his team trailed late in games, scoring three goals and making one assist. He's looking to play at Towson, UMBC or Loyola.

Mike Marchiano

McDonogh, midfield

When fully healthy, he's the most complete player in the area. The senior center midfielder, a four-year starter and team leader who missed most of his junior season with a broken foot, is skilled, strong in the air, rugged and knowledgeable. He can thread seemingly impossible needles with his passes. And can anticipate two or three passes ahead.

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