Player of the Year: J.P. Murphy, Severna Park
Afirebrand who sparked Severna Park to its first outright state championship for 28th-year coach Don Gregg, Murphy transformed his team's mediocre season (the Falcons were 8-5-1 entering the playoffs) into an unforgettable one by scoring the winning goal three times in five playoff games.
He scored six playoff goals to drive the Falcons to their second state title (they tied for one in 1983). The game-winners came in the 1-0 state championship victory against then-No. 3-ranked Dulaney, the 2-1 regional semifinal upset of top-ranked River Hill and the 2-0 regional championship victory over Mount Hebron.
Tying the school record for most points (25) in a season set by Rodney Long in 1982, the senior scored 15 goals and had 10 assists for the No. 3 Falcons (13-5-1). From center midfield, he displayed physical strength, above-average technical skills and excellent speed.
The 6-foot-1, 155-pound captain also helped out at sweeper when needed. What set the three-year-starter apart, however, was his burning desire to win. A vocal player, the two-time All-Anne Arundel County player understood the game well and acted as a field general. "He could play anywhere on the field for us, and sometimes did," Gregg said.
A first-team Maryland Association of Coaches of Soccer All-State player, Murphy ended his career with 30 goals and 19 assists for 49 points, third in school history. He hopes to receive an appointment to the Naval Academy.
Coach of the Year: Mike St. Martin, Mount St. Joseph
By winning the MIAA A Division soccer championship, the No. 2-ranked Gaels ended a prolonged drought between titles that stretched to 1978 when they shared a Maryland Scholastic Association title. Their last outright soccer title was in 1965. St. Martin, 32, had a heart-to-heart talk with his team after a disappointing 3-11 league season in 2000, and the players strengthened their commitment in the form of off-season workouts and club ball, coming to camp in August fully prepared to play. As a result, the Gaels started and ended the regular season in first place, winning that title as well as its postseason tournament title -- the only Baltimore-area team to win both. A big, physical, high-intensity team with 11 seniors, the Gaels played with confidence. "I felt from opening day that we could win. They had a great attitude. No complaints. They always wanted more work. I just tried to keep them focused," St. Martin said. This was his fifth season at Mount St. Joe. He played sweeper on a 21-0 team at Calvert Hall, and played four years at Frostburg State, winning one East Coast Athletic Conference title. Then he coached at North County for four years before coming to Mount St. Joe. His career record is 86-59-10.
Garrett Anderson, Centennial
The most feared fullback in Howard County, the 6-foot, 170-pound senior had a toughness and physical strength that made him a force. The Eagles started the season 6-0, and his reputation grew to the point that opposing coaches preferred attacking down the opposite side to avoid him. The third-year varsity player, a first-team Maryland Association of Coaches of Soccer All-State selection, was his team's strongest one-on-one defender and its best player in the air. He anchored the defense against corner kicks and long throw-ins, and scored three goals off set plays, including one in a 1-0 win over regional champ Hammond. He plans to attend either Maryland or Kings Point.
Craig Bald, South River
Bald allowed six goals and stopped 117 shots in 18 games as the Seahawks won their first Anne Arundel County title and posted the best record in school history at 15-2-1. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound senior launched punts past midfield right onto teammates' heads to jump-start a low-scoring offense. He communicated well with his defenders. A smart player, he positioned himself wisely, knew when to come out and was strong in the air. "He played like he was 6-2," said coach Greg Carroll. One of the top vote-getters on the All-Anne Arundel County team, Bald rejected 14 shots in shutting out Class 3A state champion Severna Park during the regular season. He is orally committed to Villanova where he plans to study engineering.
Matt Boras, River Hill
The center midfielder led Howard County's Hawks to the No. 1 ranking and a 12-1-1 season. On a team filled with highly skilled midfielders who blended together well, Boras stood out. "Technically, he's the best player in the county," said coach Bill Stara. The four-year varsity player scored six goals -- four of them game-winners. He added 12 assists, showing that much of the Hawks' offense went through him. Boras played smart but was unafraid to take chances. A first-team All-State pick, the team captain and two-year starter is an excellent passer and dribbler who took corner kicks and produced several assists off them. A state Olympic Development Program player for five years, and a new member of the national runner-up Soccer Club of Baltimore Bays, Boras has a 4.42 weighted grade-point average and a 1,290 SAT. He applied for early decision to Brown.
Kwaku Boateng, Hammond
Encouraged by an off-season weightlifting program, Boateng boldly predicted that he'd score 30 goals this season. The 5-foot-5, 138-pound junior striker scored 29 goals and had six assists, leading the Golden Bears to their first regional championship and earning Howard County Player of the Year honors. He is feared for his quickness, dribbling ability and hunger to score. Despite constant double-teaming, he scored at least three goals five times, including three in the regional semifinal against North Hagerstown, a team that had allowed nine goals all season. A member of the national finalist SCB Bays, Boateng helped Hammond go 8-4 with a six-game winning streak after coach Trevin London made him a lone striker.
Powell Cucchiella, Eastern Tech
In a breakthrough season for the Baltimore County and regional champion Mavericks (16-2-1), Cucchiella's playmaking and scoring abilities were crucial. The often double-teamed Cucchiella had a sense for reading the play and finding the seam with his passes. He excelled at receiving, turning and distributing. "His footwork was the fastest I've ever seen," said coach Peter Glaudemans. An accurate shooter, the 5-foot-11, 155-pound first-team All-State senior could also play good containment defense at midfield. The Sun's Baltimore City/County Player of the Year, the three-year starter scored 27 career goals and had 21 career assists. His college choices include UMBC, Towson, Salisbury and Loyola.
Mike Dougherty, Mount St. Joseph
As versatile as a Swiss Army knife, Dougherty sliced up and corkscrewed opposing defenses with one-touch passes to teammates' feet from his inverted striker position. But he was just as comfortable retreating to stopper after his team built a lead. He scored 12 goals with an accurate right-footed shot. That same foot powered corner kicks that led to some of his 10 assists. He drilled a corner kick in the MIAA championship game against McDonogh, and a teammate headed it in to tie the game, 1-1. The Gaels then went on to win, 3-2. The 6-foot-1, 170-pound first-team All-State senior provided a physical presence on defense. He also displayed great endurance. "I think he only came out of a game once all season," Martin said. Penn State, Bucknell, Loyola and UMBC are college possibilities.
Kosta Fleytman, Franklin
Described as a "jet" by his coach, Fleytman displayed a quick first step, well-developed skills, speed and knowledge of the game. Whether beating constant double-teams or distributing, the senior center midfielder consistently showed the creativity that marked him as a superior player. Coach Larry Meekins said: "With the talent level we had this year, most kids like him would have given up. But he pushed and pushed and ran the team. He's the only player I've ever had like him. He's the best midfielder in Baltimore County by far." Fleytman, a natural left-footer who is adept with either foot, took all the corner kicks and restarts with deadly accuracy. He scored seven goals and had eight assists. A regional Olympic Development Program player, he has a 3.35 grade-point average and a 1,200 SAT score. He is being recruited by Loyola, UMBC and Towson.
Mike Glancey, Mount Hebron
A high-energy, hard-nosed striker, he carried a team hit hard by graduation and a late coaching change, scoring nine of the Vikings' first 11 goals. He scored three in a 3-2 win over Archbishop Curley. He helped Mount Hebron (12-5-1) unexpectedly win its first seven games. The 5-foot-10, 150-pound senior led the Vikings to the regional final. Glancey, second-team All-Metro last season, scored both goals in a 2-0 regional semifinal win over Gywnn Park. Quick on the ball and able to use either foot, the first-team All-State striker finished with 15 goals and eight assists. His college possibilities include Salisbury, Towson, East Carolina and North Carolina-Greensboro.
Brandon Hawkes, Oakland Mills
The Scorpions' hallmark is defense, and Hawkes was that unit's bedrock. The 6-foot, 170-pound senior sweeper also ruled the air on Oakland Mills' bread-and-butter offensive set pieces. A second-team All-Metro pick last season, Hawkes scored 12 of his team's 26 goals -- mostly off headers. Seven of those were game-winners for the state Class 1A finalist Scorpions (8-6-2), whose string of three straight state titles was ended by Pocomoke, 3-1. He scored the game-winner in a 1-0 regional final against Poolesville, and the game-winner in a 2-1 state semifinal win over Sparrows Point. Hawkes was sure-footed, read the field well and reacted quickly. The Scorpions were 43-16-6 during his four-year varsity career.
Kevin Mezzadra, Loyola
Described as a "beast" of a scorer by his coach, the 6-foot-2, 180-pound junior forward led the MIAA in scoring with 23 goals and eight assists. Quick off the ball, the third-year player has 49 career goals and has led the Dons to a three-year 38-19-8 record and three MIAA semifinal appearances. A power player, Mezzadra makes great crosses. "He receives and shields the ball as well as anyone I've seen," said coach Don Kraft. "He's a gifted scorer who plays well with his back to the goal. ... And his direct kicks are becoming legendary." Mezzadra is first-team All-State, All-MIAA and All-Baltimore City/County. A member of the National finalist Soccer Club of Baltimore club team, he's also a Maryland Olympic Development Program player. Brown, Loyola and UMBC are showing interest.
Chris Miller, Calvert Hall
His intense, physical style set the tone for the Cardinals (13-6-2), who soared to the No. 1 ranking at one point before falling to No. 10. The 5-foot-10, 160-pound senior captain played bigger than his size, and he stood up some premier forwards. The two-year marking back's speed and decision-making ability helped him to excel. "I thought he was the best defender in the MIAA," said coach Andy Moore. "He's who we matched against the other team's top forward. We were a nightmare defensively without him." Miller missed this season's last week with a broken leg that he suffered going for a tackle against Archbishop Spalding, and the Cardinals lost their next game to No. 2-ranked Mount St. Joseph, 5-0, a team they had shut out earlier in the season. A 3.6 student, he's interested in Randolph-Macon, Washington College, Towson and James Madison.
Sam Nicolette, Sparrows Point
An awe-inspiring, 50-yard kick was the sweeper's calling card. Not only could the 6-foot-2, 190-pound senior clear quickly and definitively, but he also was a good dribbler with a fine touch and could thread passes if need be. "He was an unselfish player who could have played forward, but he went where we needed him," said coach George Bischoff. "He was impossible to beat one-on-one and was the one guy on my team I could least afford to lose." The three-year starter was the top vote-getter at defense on the Baltimore County coaches All-Star team. He showed incredible speed for a big guy. "He ran down Kyle Farmer [a state champion sprinter] a couple of times last year," Bischoff said. Nicolette, who scored two goals, read the field well and could use either foot. With a 1,210 SAT score and 3.5 grade-point average, he is looking at Towson.
Nick Warner, Dulaney
Exceptional in the air, he reads power throws and crossing passes well and displays quick reflexes and good instincts while in tight quarters. He shows pinpoint accuracy on 25-yard throws to teammates as they run the flanks. A vocal leader, the 6-foot-1, 165-pound first-team All-State senior had 11 shutouts and 194 saves this season for the state 3A runner-up Lions (14-5-1). He set a school record with 26 career shutouts in 47 games. The Lions went 36-9-2 and won three regional titles and a state Class 4A title in 1999 with Warner in goal. "He's the backbone of our team and has been its MVP for two years," said coach Steve Shaw. "He made an incredible one-handed save off a big cross against Perry Hall where he looked like he had stickum on his hand." Warner has a 3.28 GPA and a 1,230 SAT score. Elon, Randolph-Macon and Mary Washington are college possibilities.<Brian Yi, McDonogh
Rated the No. 1 player in the state by the Maryland Association of Coaches of Soccer, the junior proved to be a cut above in dribbling ability and technical skills. Yi was a threat to dominate any game, forcing opposing coaches to focus on shutting down the 5-foot-9, 150-pound center midfielder. Despite double-teams, he scored 11 goals and had 18 assists. Five goals were game-winners, including a playoff victory against Calvert Hall. Yi, team captain and a three-year starter, led the Eagles (17-7-1) to a runner-up finish in the MIAA tournament. The only repeat first-team All-Metro selection, the honor-roll student is being scouted by Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut and Clemson. "We have had some great players at McDonogh, but Brian is the best pure soccer player we've ever had," said coach Steve Nichols. Yi is a regional Olympic Development Program player and a first-team All-State pick.
Name School Class Position
Brian Dannenfelser Edgewood Senior Forward
Justin Hughes River Hill Junior Forward
Saah Johnson Mount St. Joseph Sophomore Forward
Jeff Kocher C. Milton Wright Senior Forward
Matt Moffa Eastern Tech Senior Forward
Brandon Franklin Liberty Senior Midfield
Spencer Hannas River Hill Senior Midfield
Kyle McHugh McDonogh Junior Midfield
Gordon Murray Hammond Junior Midfield
David Pusinsky Sparrows Point Senior Midfield
Matt Dryer Mount St. Joseph Senior Defense
Jamie Flynn Perry Hall Senior Defense
Scott Forney South River Junior Defense
Jesse Weissburg Severna Park Senior Defense
Zach Keesecker C. Milton Wright Senior Goalkeeper
Note: The All-Metro boys soccer teams were selected by Rick Belz after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun