All-metro Boys Soccer

December 14, 2005

Player of the Year

Akira Fitzgerald

Loyola, goalie

The senior closed out a stellar four-year career in typical fashion: posting a shutout over 100 minutes of soccer to lead the No. 1 Dons to a share of the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference crown with a scoreless tie against Mount St. Joseph. An All-America selection who made the All-Metro team in three of his four years, Fitzgerald had all the tools of a solid goalkeeper, starting with sound technical play, smart decision-making, fine distribution and vocal leadership as a two-year captain. In staking claim to the No. 1 spot, the Dons finished the season with a 15-2-6 mark, with Fitzgerald posting 11 shutouts, allowing just 12 goals and turning back 108 shots. "It's hard to put into words what he's meant to the program. Along with his fine goalie skills, he brings a lot of presence in the back and so many intangibles, like giving the guys in front of him so much confidence," Loyola coach Kyle Swords said. Fitzgerald, who will play at Wake Forest next year, saved his best for the conference playoffs. In the semifinal round, he blanked defending league champion McDonogh for a third time this season through overtime, and then made a key save and kicked in the game-winning goal in the deciding penalty kick shootout. In the championship game, Fitzgerald had seven saves to keep a dangerous Mount St. Joseph offense in check and help Loyola gain a share of the crown, the program's second. Some of the biggest compliments that came Fitzgerald's way over the course of the season came from the conference's opposing coaches, who had the arduous task of devising plans to score goals against him.

Ed DeVincent

Coach of the Year

Liberty

The Liberty boys soccer program had reached the state semifinal round two of the previous three seasons. This year, in DeVincent's 10th season, the Lions broke through with a 1-0 win over Hammond to capture the Class 2A crown. The win completed an unbeaten season for the fourth-ranked Lions, who finished with a 15-0-3 mark that included a 5-0-1 record in Carroll County to capture top honors there as well. The team overcame a number of obstacles, as DeVincent was faced with the task of replacing eight graduated starters, and there were a number of injuries at the start of the season. It wasn't until the seventh game that he had his 11 state title game starters in place. An early season, 1-1 tie with River Hill, which went on to capture its fourth straight state title in Class 3A, showed the Lions that they could play with any team. "A lot of people have asked me what the difference was from this year and others, and I think it came down to chemistry and leadership with this group," said DeVincent, who has a 114-37-8 career mark. "To be able to keep it all together over the course of the season with the injuries and adversity, it showed the team's heart and character. At the end of each game, we had a cheer and the final word said was `family' -- they considered themselves as family and it showed over the course of the year."

FIRST TEAM

Mostafa Ebrahimnejad

Hammond, midfield

Smooth and creative as the team's offensive catalyst, the gifted junior welcomed the expanded role that was asked of him in his third varsity season to carry the No. 10 Golden Bears (11-3-5) to their first state title game. Smart with and without the ball, Ebrahimnejad brought a presence to the field that didn't go unnoticed. Equally adept at finishing and setting up teammates, Ebrahimnejad finished the season with a team-high 12 goals and five assists. The offensive production was a significant increase from the five goals and six assists he finished with as a sophomore. Hammond coach Rick Bantz also said his standout player brought unique leadership qualities with the ability to step up when called on or sit back and follow the team's seniors.

Andrew Gillis

Perry Hall, forward

Combining hard work, speed and a natural scoring knack, the senior standout led the No. 8 Gators to an 11-2 season with a team-high 14 goals and eight assists. Gillis scored big goals on a regular basis and was equally effective in setting up teammates when the added attention came his way. The first-team All-State selection was both consistent and timely with his goal production, scoring in 11 of the team's 13 games. Included was a goal in the Gators' win over No. 1 Loyola, two goals against Archbishop Curley and a three-goal performance against Baltimore County rival Hereford. Gillis will play soccer at UMBC next fall.

Tyrone Hall

Mount St. Joseph, midfield

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