Win or lose, the beauty of a workmanlike, 3-1 game early in the season can be viewed two ways.
Bill Stara, coach of top-ranked River Hill, saw his 15-senior, two-time state champions open yesterday with a solid win at Glenelg -- "a good way to start the year."
Gladiators coach Pete Klisas saw a loss after two wins that he can build on, considering he started two freshmen and four sophomores. As Klisas, who with 15 underclassmen clearly can't wait for next season, put it:
"The average age on this team is a sophomore-and-a-half. Next year, we're going to be the team to beat. Our program is being built solid, and I'm very happy."
Glenelg (2-1-0 overall, 0-1-0 Howard County League) never jeopardized River Hill (1-0-0) in the matchup of neighbors a few miles apart on Route 32. With All-Metro forward Adom Crew scoring the first of his two goals just nine minutes in and up 3-0 by halftime, the Hawks, with Stara's midfield-clogging defense functioning, were always in control.
But Glenelg settled its defense at the break, got back a goal early in the second half against a lot of River Hill second-stringers, and showed respectably, if not threateningly, the rest of the way.
In fact, after Glenelg's Phil Rub, a junior defender, tucked away a diving deflection off Hawks goalkeeper Mike Dibella's fingertips from 5 yards on the left side of a traffic-filled penalty box in the 45th minute, Stara returned his starters to the field.
"Usually, when it's 3-0 we give the reserves a chance to play," he said. "I felt comfortable, but then we let in the one goal. The dilemma is that another one makes it 3-2, and I had to kill off the momentum."
But Stara added: "We did all right. It's good, because no matter how much you practice, it's difficult to get that game rhythm -- how fast players come on you, and things like that."
Crew headed in his first goal from about 5 yards off a far-post corner kick from the left that midfielder Kyle O'Brien sent back into the middle. His second -- the Hawks' third -- originated with a pass from midfield that he settled, gave nicely to midfielder Deforest McDuff and received back just as nicely in the left side of the box, scoring from 9 yards moments before halftime.
In the 26th minute, midfielder Brent Tyson put the Hawks up 2-0 on the game's flashiest play. A long throw-in from the left became a hard, downward header from the right that seemed in. But Glenelg sophomore goalkeeper Brandon Maddox, acrobatically diving right, flicked the ball into the only space possible, only to see Tyson blister it past him.
Pub Date: 9/15/99