In his senior season, Howard's Mike Green is catching some good breaks -- or in the case of his foot, a nonbreak.
The two-time All-County soccer selection learned in August that a possible season-ending stress fracture instead was just a sprained joint in his foot. That made him smile.
Then, 10 days ago, playing his second game of the season, he scored both goals in the league opener, a 2-1 victory over Glenelg. That made him smile some more.
It was the second straight victory for the Lions, who were 0-1-1 in games without Green.
Green scored one of the goals on a 25-yard free kick, the other on a header off a throw-in.
But scoring is not his forte. The powerful sweeper's ability in the air is what makes him stand out.
That leaping ability is part of the reason the top soccer universities in the nation want him to play for them next season.
Green is one of four-time national defending champion Virginia's four top recruits. He also has Rutgers in pursuit. At 6-foot-3 1/2 and 180 pounds he looks, runs and jumps like a college player.
"It meant a lot to be able to play my senior year, because high school is the last time I can play when it's not a job," Green said. "Soccer is still fun. I don't have to worry about paying someone back for a scholarship."
Another reason colleges, such as academic-minded Virginia, want him is his 3.6 GPA.
"He's a total package," first-year Howard coach Brian Boussy said. "It's nice to come in my first year and have a kid like this. In terms of leadership, he and Peter [Bachman] have done a great job, and it's hard to lead your peers."
Both Green and Bachman, a talented midfielder, have started for four years for Howard.
"Mike is a throwback. He acts older than his age. When he was hurt during summer workouts he never missed a practice -- 6 a.m., noon, whatever," Boussy said. "He was the last one off the field with me. It was like having an assistant coach."
Boussy, a former All-State goalkeeper at Oakland Mills, was also grateful to Green for smoothing things over with some Howard players who might have resented the fact that Boussy was an Oakland Mills assistant coach last season.
"I got the feeling that some of the players still saw orange and black [Oakland Mills colors] when they looked at me," Boussy said.
Although Green played a lot of center-midfield his sophomore and junior seasons, sweeper is where he plays for the big games.
Said Boussy: "With him in the back it gives you the confidence to move other people forward, instead of pushing everyone back."
"I like playing sweeper because you can see everything and take control," said Green, a member of the ODP regional pool.
He plays strictly sweeper for his club team, the Columbia Darby, which includes such county standouts as Brian West, Kumi Walker, Cory Piette and Brock Yetso of Centennial and Tony Marchegiano of Glenelg. The Darby won a regional title four years ago.
Green will need a few more good breaks to achieve his ultimate goal this season -- winning a state championship. The path to states is blocked by a boulder of a team, top-ranked Centennial.