Curley senior Steve Novak earned second-team All-Metro honors as the Friars' top-scoring forward with 11 goals and three assists on last year's Maryland Interscholastic Association A Conference semifinalist.
This year, however, Novak has moved back to the stopper position, where he has contributed three goals and two assists -- including the game-winning goal against league-rival McDonogh -- and anchored Curley to seven shutouts in as many wins.
Novak also doubles as the football team's place-kicker, and has booted field goals of 35, 40 and 43 yards.
On the soccer field, however, Novak considers himself "just one of 11 players." And it is his unselfishness, as one of four seniors, that is the trademark of a squad that scores from everywhere on the field.
"We spread the ball around a lot, get everyone involved," said senior midfielder Brandon Scarfield. "We treat every game as if it's a battle. Every game's a championship."
The Friars' blistering pace includes out-scoring the opposition, 34-0, which is an average of 4.85 goals a game. Curley has outshot its rivals, 129-28, or an average of 18.4-to-4. Keepers Adam Jackson (15 saves) and C.J. Nichols (three) have handled, on average, only 2.5 shots behind Novak, Steve Althoff, Mike Lynch and Matt Moneymaker.
And it's not as if the Friars are playing a weak schedule.
McDonogh was ranked No. 2 by The Sun when it lost, 2-0, to the Friars. Calvert Hall was No. 5 on the day of its 3-0 loss. Former No. 8 Mount St. Joseph was beaten, 5-0, and both C. Milton Wright (a 5-0 loser) and Spalding (by 6-0) were ranked No. 14 when beaten by Curley.
The Friars, ranked No. 2 by The Sun, are 4-0 in the league entering today's game at Gilman.
Coach Pep Perrella is 147-12-42 in 12 seasons at Curley. His teams have reached the title game six times, winning in 1993 and 1995. But where the focal point of those two squads was three-time All-Metro striker Giuliano Celenza, "we've never had the balance of this year's team," Perrella said.
Curley is closing in on the school record of nine shutouts established by the 16-0-1 championship squad of 1993 which starred Celenza and All-Metro Player of the Year Mike Libber, the Friars' junior varsity coach.
"This year's has a lot more depth, and their scoring numbers are more spread out," Libber said. "They score from the midfield and Novak comes from the back and strikes the ball well."
"These guys are so creative. They pass so well," said assistant Dave Ball. "It's like the ball touches every blade of grass."
Curley's excellent offensive penetration has produced seven penalty kicks -- a school record according to Perrella.
"I got a lot of flack from parents last year for starting some of these kids as underclassmen. But my job is to put the best team on the field with the present and the future in mind," Perrella said. "They got their feet wet, and I think you're seeing the results. Now they're on a roll."
The Friars' margin of victory over Spalding -- whose ace is second-team All-Metro striker Brian Madej -- was wider than the Cavaliers' 4-0 loss to New Jersey's St. Benedict's, ranked No. 1 ++ nationally by The National Soccer Coaches' Association of America.
"One of their [NSCAA] guys called me the other day. They were obviously impressed," Perrella said. "We were up, 3-0, early in the second half, so I had my subs in for the last 30 minutes."
Curley's top scorers are junior striker Marco Angellini (seven goals, five assists) and junior midfielder Brandon Quaranta (six, six), an Olympic Developmental state team player. Striker Chris Quigley has three goals, one assist.
Scarfield (four goals, two assists), midfielder Tim Wazlavek (two, four) and freshman Santino Quaranta (three, two) also are capable scorers. Santino Quaranta, only 13, plays for the Under-16 ODP national team.
"We have a pre-game ritual where we strap a strip of tape on our wrist that reads NOV-JHU," Novak said. "It means making the finals in November at Johns' Hopkins is our ultimate goal."
But Libber cautioned the Friars not to let their heads get too big.
"They've got potential," Libber said. "but they still haven't got a title."
Pub Date: 9/29/98