All-metro Soccer - Boys

December 17, 2004|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Matt Beckman

McDonogh, midfielder

The senior is a strong, all-around player whose powerful foot, ruggedness, speed and knack for putting the ball in the net made him respected by every opponent and dangerous from long distances.

In his primary offensive center-midfield role this season, he showed poise under pressure by scoring 26 goals and making 15 assists. Seven of those goals were game-winners, including the 3-0 Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship game against Calvert Hall.

With pinpoint accuracy and flair, he took his team's long kicks and throws. Also an excellent defender, Beckman completed a remarkable four-year career with 68 goals and 31 assists despite playing defense two of those years.

He culminated that career by being named an All-American this season. Beckman also was the leading scorer for the two-time national champion Casa Mia club team.

He'll play for Maryland next year.

COACH OF THE YEAR

Steve Nichols

McDonogh

The list of his team's accomplishments is impressive. It never dropped from The Sun's No. 1 ranking this season, his eighth as head coach at McDonogh, and was 13-2 against other area ranked teams. The Eagles defeated three nationally ranked teams, including St. Benedict's (N.J.), 3-1, when that team was ranked No. 1. And they finished ranked No. 5 nationally in the StudentSportsSoccer.com Fab 50 poll.

The Eagles outscored opponents 68-7, and won the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship, their third title under the 35-year-old coach. They've made the championship game seven straight seasons.

Nichols, 146-32-8 for his career, played two years professionally for the Baltimore Spirit indoors and Baltimore Bays outdoors before joining McDonogh's staff as an assistant under Bill Seal. A Boys Latin graduate, he played collegiately at James Madison and Loyola.

FIRST TEAM

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.

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