It's not surprising to see Towson State sophomore midfielder Kevin Henderson smiling on the soccer field, sometimes even laughing.
It was a bit more tense Wednesday with his Tigers taking on Maryland, the country's third-ranked team. But that all took a sudden turn when teammate Andre Wise scored the game-winner with three minutes left, leaving all the Tigers in a jubilant state of mind.
"That was a more serious game, but I still had just as much fun. Everyone went wild when we scored," said Henderson, a Liberty High grad.
Towson State coach Frank Olszewski spent the majority of last season trying to find a place for Henderson. Olszewski first
Hendersonstarted him as a marking back and later moved him up front. This season, Henderson has settled in nicely as the Tigers' starting center midfielder, and all the other pieces have fallen into place with the team off to a 6-0 start.
"He's just a dynamic individual and a dynamic player," Olszewski said. "He has a high degree of imagination, and you don't want to stifle that. His personality comes through on the field."
Henderson said the jump from high school to Division I college ball was a big one.
"It was a huge difference. It's a bigger, faster game up here. There's really no comparison," Henderson said.
Olszewski shuffled around his lineup in last year's 8-10 season, and Henderson was ready to play wherever needed. His versatility was apparent, but he's more comfortable with his permanent station in the middle.
"At center midfield, I just feel much safer, more secure. That's where I played at Liberty and on most of my club teams," he said. "My role is to be the workhorse and get up and down the field and try to support everywhere I can."
Olszewski took it a step farther. "From penalty area to penalty area he's like a gazelle -- he just never stops running. Kevin plays at a high level and has a lot of experience," he said. "His vision and reading of the game gets better every day."
The Tigers were beating Iona earlier this season when Henderson sent the ball between an opponent's legs. "You hear the bench, look over and have to give a little smile," he said.
The simple fact is Henderson loves the game he's played year-round since he was 6 or 7 and doesn't mind showing it.
"It's the highlight of my life right now," he said. "The game's about winning, but also about having fun. You go out there because you love the game."