The formula for beating the Oakland Mills boys soccer team this season can be summed up in three words -- stop Teddy Lawler.
In two of Oakland Mills' three losses, against Centennial and Wilde Lake, Lawler failed to score. In a 4-3 loss to Glenelg, he scored once, but sat out the first 25 minutes nursing an injury.
He has scored in four of Oakland Mills' five wins. He was injured in the opening minutes and missed a 14-0 rout against Surrattsville.
Opposing teams normally mark Lawler, an All-County, All-State and All-South selection last year when he scored 11 goals and had four assists.
And those that don't mark him, such as Mount Hebron last Wednesday, pay the price. Lawler scored three goals against the Vikings. He has seven goals and one assist overall.
Lawler wasn't marked and didn't score in Friday's 2-1 loss to Wilde Lake, although he set up Oakland Mills' only goal by drawing a penalty kick.
Wilde Lake was a game he'd like to forget. "It started out OK but then I just didn't play well," Lawler said. He missed two or three close shots he normally would make.
After the game, Wilde Lake coach Dave Nesbitt left no doubt about how he feels about Lawler, however. He walked out to the field where Lawler lay sprawled on the ground, helped him up, put his arm around him and consoled him.
"He's one of the few seniors in the county this season who can step into a Division I program and play," Nesbitt said. "He's a very gifted player whom the referees don't allow to play at the level he's capable of. They call him for too many fouls. He needs to make that little bump to make his move. Take that away and he's less effective."
Even during the game Nesbitt was unusually sympathetic to Lawler, yelling out to him at one point that he'll be in college
soon and won't have to put up with high school officiating much longer.
Lawler normally is sore and exhausted after games because of Oakland Mills' offensive style. Once the Scorpions get a lead, Lawler becomes a lone striker, and because he is such a talented dribbler, he is expected to create scoring opportunities with his dribbling.
"You get kicked a lot when you dribble and there's no one to pass to," Lawler said. "You just have to take it."
He was especially ill-treated during a 2-1 victory over Howard and came away with the knee injury that forced him to miss 25 minutes of the Glenelg game.
"[John] Bagrosky and [John] Bakst were both enforcer types," Lawler said. "The injury was actually my fault because I turned into the middle and [coach Don] Shea always preaches if you turn in you get broken."
But the Howard game also was the scene of his prettiest goal this season. While dribbling at high speed he faked out one defender with a move to the left, and then faked out the goalie before scoring into an open net.
Lawler, who is 6 feet 1 and 155 pounds, said he has had to work much harder this season to get to the goal because he's being guarded more closely.
The Scorpions also have had problems at midfield. Their best midfielder, Brent Mascott, is forced to play sweeper.
"He's probably the best midfielder in the county," Lawler said.
At crucial times, Lawler has moved to sweeper, a position he played at the club level. He also played midfield during his freshman and sophomore seasons.
Lawler, whose club teams have included the Columbia Crew, F. C. Bethesda and Potomac Silver Streak, played only one junior-varsity game as a freshman before getting called to varsity. He was a member of the Scorpions' 1990 state championship team.
"But I was mainly along just for the ride," he said.
In his sophomore season, the Scorpions went 5-6-2 -- their worst record since 1976.
The team rebounded last year to a 10-3-2 season that ended with a loss to Glenelg in the state semifinal.
Lawler is looking for another state championship before he graduates. The Scorpions have games this week against Atholton, Hammond and Loyola.
"Everyone thought this year's team was going to be better than last year's," he said. "We need to concentrate more on our midfield."
The Scorpions also lack a key ingredient that has characterized their best teams -- enforcer types on defense.
Lawler, who may play sweeper in college, has a 3.9 grade-point )) average and has scored 1,100 on the Scholastic Assessment Test.