Player of the Year
Marissa Schuchat, McDonogh, senior, midfield: Schuchat was the driving force behind the top-ranked Eagles 22-5-1 season that brought the Catholic League A Division tournament championship. Impressive was her 28 goals and 19 assists this season at center midfield. Even more impressive was the way she went about putting up those numbers along with all the other contributions she made in the middle of the field for the Eagles. Full of skill and savvy with a tireless work rate, Schuchat proved the consummate team player and the Eagles' transition catalyst. Driven to succeed, no one worked harder. "She's a big-time player," said McDonogh coach Maurice Boylan Jr. "She came up big for us all year long. Everything we did went through her. She was calm and cool, poised under pressure. She's the kind of player who can adjust to what the other team gives her."
Constantly first to the ball with good speed and quickness, Schuchat displayed the ability to maneuver through defenses to get a shot for herself or set up a teammate. She scored eight game-winning goals, including one in double overtime that nipped then-No. 1 and unbeaten John Carroll, 4-3. A regional Olympic Development Program selection for three years, Schuchat was a first-team All-Metro pick last year and is a two-time All-State first-teamer. Although she had yet to make a college decision, she is being recruited by many top-notch Division I schools.
Coach of the Year
Mark Deaton, Notre Dame Prep: The Pirates' first-year coach wasted no time taking his team to the next level in the demanding Catholic League A Division. At the beginning of the season, Deaton wanted to forge unity within a team that mixed five freshmen with veterans. With that accomplished, the wins came. The Pirates finished 15-4-0, losing only to teams ranked No. 1 or No. 2 at the time of the match. They lost to eventual Catholic League champ and No. 1 McDonogh in the tournament semifinals after beating the Eagles during the regular season. Deaton's quiet sideline demeanor meshed perfectly with his basic coaching strategy. "I don't like things real complicated," said Deaton, a math teacher. "I like to make things clear, but I want them to own the games. The games are theirs. I want them to be creative and instinctive, and when things get out of hand, I remind them of the structure of the game and bring them back into that."
The Pirates ranked among the Catholic League leaders in offense with 48 goals and among the leaders in defense, posting eight shutouts and allowing 11 goals. Deaton, a 15-year veteran of coaching rec, travel, club and high school teams, took over the Pirates varsity after amassing a 19-2-4 record and a co-championship in two years with the JV. His only previous varsity coaching experience came at Eastern Tech in 1994.
First team at a glance
Michelle Allen, Liberty, junior, forward: With a knack for finishing as well as the ability to distribute to teammates, Allen ended the season with 15 goals and 10 assists -- tops in Carroll County -- to earn first-team honors for a second straight season. With a good feel for the game and the skills to match, Allen was a dangerous threat every time she touched the ball.
Brandy Ault, Institute of Notre Dame, senior, forward: Ault did just about everything for a young Indians team and did it all well. She was a strong finisher at striker, often provided stability and creativity at center midfield and also saw time anchoring the defense at sweeper. She finished the season with 11 goals and 10 assists, relying on great speed and skills to go with strong play in the air.
Jen Biscoe, John Carroll, junior, midfield: Her stellar play at center midfield was the primary reason the Patriots spent most of the season atop the metro area rankings before closing at No. 2. A strong two-way player who went non-stop from penalty area to penalty area, Biscoe finished the year with 14 goals and eight assists, combining great instincts and ability with a special creative flare.
Jesse Eckerl, Mercy, senior, defense: Eckerl welcomed every challenge as the area's top marking back and shut down some of the Catholic League's top strikers. A tenacious, mentally tough defender, Eckerl relied on her fine game sense to determine whether to challenge for the ball or simply contain to keep a striker to the outside.
Katie Elliott, Mount Hebron, junior, midfield: field: Fast, skilled and aggressive with a strong left foot, Elliott finished the season with a Howard County-high 16 goals and 16 assists. Hebron coach Jonathan Davis said just as important as those impressive numbers was Elliott's ability to raise the play of everyone around her.
Kelly Jordan, Arundel, senior, midfield: Whether at midfield or up front, Jordan was a dominating presence for the Wildcats, scoring 13 goals and adding nine assists. The Arundel program first came into prominence when she scored 21 goals as a sophomore, leading the Wildcats to the Class 3A-4A final. With great speed and a strong work ethic, she's been a mainstay on the metro area's first team ever since.
Natalie Klisas, River Hill, junior, defense: The Hawks defense meshed with her solid play at sweeper. Klisas read developing plays well, made good decisions and could work the ball out of the back when she had time or simply provide a big clear. Klisas' ability to dominate from a defensive standpoint enabled her to often control the tempo of a game.
Meredith McAlister, Severna Park, senior, defense: Another in a long list of standout sweepers at Severna Park, the 5-foot-10 McAlister combined power and finesse to anchor the Falcons' defense. She was strong in the air and able to challenge everything else with good anticipation. Smart once she won the ball, McAlister was able to knock balls long when needed, or build the attack from the back with plenty of poise.
Allison Merkle, Catholic, senior, midfield: Making her third appearance on the first team, Merkle did all she could to help a young Catholic team. The first-team, All-Catholic League performer started the season in goal, keeping the Cubs in games with stellar play there, but her creativity and steadiness in the middle of the field was clearly missed. After returning to center midfield, Merkle finished with 12 goals and six assists.
Lindsey Mitchell, Hammond, senior, goalkeeper: keeper: The co-Player of the Year in Howard County, Mitchell led the Golden Bears to the Class 1A state championship with three shootout victories in the playoffs. Smart and athletic, Mitchell dives well to either side and can hang onto the ball. The four-year starter finished the season with 133 saves, 14 shutouts and only 10 goals against.
Melissa Mueller, Hereford, senior, forward: ward: With her speed, crafty ball skills and sure shot, Mueller was difficult to contain once inside the penalty area, finishing the season with 25 goals and 12 assists to lead the Bulls (14-4-0) to the Baltimore County title game and the regional final. Mueller scored two goals and had an assist in the All-State game to earn Most Valuable Player honors.
Holly Noga, Severna Park, junior, forward: ward: Noga came into her own as a pure finisher for the Falcons, leading them to the Class 4A final and earning Anne Arundel Player of the Year honors after scoring 16 goals and adding four assists. She was tough to contain in the open field, getting by defenders with her speed and ball skills and then finding the corners of the goal with well-placed finishes.
Stephanie Rogers, North Carroll, senior, forward: With great intensity and the skills and athleticism to match, Rogers took her game to a higher level this season and brought her teammates with her as the Panthers reached the Class 3A final. Carroll County's Player of the Year closed out a four-year varsity career with 13 goals on the season -- including three-game winners -- to go with one assist.
Jessie Steck, Mercy, senior, defense: A striker last year, Steck made a smooth transition to the sweeper position, solidifying a Magic defense that notched 11 shutouts and allowed just 12 goals. She combined speed and skill with an excellent field vision, knowing precisely when to step in and challenge for the ball. With a strong foot, Steck also took all the goal kicks and free kicks for the Magic, contributing two goals and two assists.
Lisa Zanti, McDonogh, junior, forward: With a combination of speed, tenacity and creativity, Zanti dared defenders to shut her down. Few did as the repeat first-team selection finished the season with 39 goals and 17 assists. Zanti, a first-team All-Catholic League selection, was at her best when the No. 1-ranked Eagles (22-5-1) needed her most, scoring eight game-winners and assisting on three others.
The Baltimore Sun 1998 All-Metro girls soccer teams were selected by Glenn P. Graham after consultation with The Sun staff and area coaches.
Pub Date: 12/02/98