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County powers still run into more powerful HIGH SCHOOL BOYS SOCCER PREVIEW


What's next for Severna Park, Chesapeake and Broadneck in the world of high school boys soccer?

They have clearly established themselves as the top three powers in Anne Arundel county and should remain ahead of the pack for several years.

Chesapeake and Broadneck have come on strong in recent years after Severna Park had dominated the county for a long time.

The Falcons were so powerful for so many seasons that most people still say the road to the county championship goes through Severna Park. But Chesapeake and Broadneck are major forces in the soccer picture.

Chesapeake ousted Severna Park from the 4A East region semifinals last season with a 2-1 double overtime victory. The Cougars and Falcons were 1-1-1 in three meetings last season.

Severna Park beat Chesapeake in the regular season, and the two teams played to a tie in the county championship game.

However, the fun usually ends for the best from Anne Arundel when they take on the elite from Montgomery and Howard counties in the state tournament.

Montgomery's Churchill and Walt Whitman, and Howard's Centennial are a notch above.

Churchill is the three-time defending state 4A champion and defeated Severna Park, 6-3, in the state finals two years ago. Whitman and Centennial make a habit of meeting in the state 3A finals each season, with Centennial winning three of the last four state titles.

Centennial ended Broadneck's 1994 season with a 1-0 double overtime win in the 3A East championship.

So just what do the top Arundel schools have to do to start winning some of these state tournament showdowns?

Get a lot more lucky bounces of the ball, said Severna Park's Don Gregg who is starting his 22nd year as head coach of the Falcons.

That is true, but it is no accident that Churchill, Centennial and Walt Whitman are winning year after year.

They have carefully orchestrated soccer programs featuring players who sleep, eat and drink the game 365 days a year.

Most of their players give up other sports at a young age, play soccer year-round and on as many as three teams in the off-season, and only play for the top club teams that are coached by the best coaches available.

Severna Park, Chesapeake and Broadneck could try to emulate this success but Gregg said there are no guarantees.

"They [Churchill, Centennial and Whitman] have better athletes than we do," said Gregg, who encourages his youngsters to play as many sports as they can. "Most kids aren't going to be top-notch Division I players. Anyway, we're happy where we are."

Some Arundel coaches, such as Meade's Mike Dey, say high-profile soccer programs on a year-round basis often result in burnout.

"I encourage my sons to play all sports," said Dey. "I've seen too many kids quit soccer at an early age because they just get tired of."

Not so, says Old Mill coach Don Hobbs.

"Kids who are playing year-round are doing it because that's what they want to do," he said. "The level of club soccer in Montgomery and Howard counties is higher than in Anne Arundel. That's why schools like Churchill are getting better players. There is a more relaxed atmosphere in club ball than in high school competition so there is not much chance of those players getting burned out."

However, most of the Arundel coaches are content with the success their programs have had with athletes who play two and three sports.

"We have a nice mix of well-rounded athletes on our team," said Broadneck coach Jonathan Braun. "A lot of our guys also play basketball and lacrosse. I think it's a real good situation. I'm not sure if we played year-round, we could compete with the Centennials and Churchills."

Arundel coach Nick Jauschnegg seemed to sum up the feelings of a lot of league coaches: "I think we have a very competitive county league. We have good teams but not super teams like Howard and Montgomery counties.

There will be a new twist to the county soccer scene this season, as the 12 public schools will be divided into two six-team divisions with the division winners meeting in a one-game showdown for the county title.

Last season, the two teams (Severna Park and Chesapeake) with the top regular-season records met for the championship. That game ended in a 3-3 tie.

A rematch could occur this year, with Severna Park competing in the Southern Division and Chesapeake in the Northern Division.

Joining Severna Park in the Southern division are Broadneck, Annapolis, Arundel, Southern Harwood and South River.

In addition to Chesapeake, the North includes Glen Burnie, Meade, North County, Northeast and Old Mill.

The county's other three schools, Spalding, St. Mary's and Severn, will continue to compete in the tough Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association this season.

Spalding, which attracts some of the top club players in the county, enters its second season in the talented MIAA A Conference.

St. Mary's and Severn begin their second seasons in the B Conference after finding the A Conference a tough go two years ago. St. Mary's won the regular- season B Conference Division I title last season but lost in the semi-finals of the playoffs to Friends.

Severn was also ousted in the B Conference semifinals, losing to eventual league champion Boys Latin.

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