For as long as he's been playing soccer, Eleanor Roosevelt High School's Charles Bond has been a goalkeeper. It's the position he played in youth leagues, it's the position he played with his club team and it's the position he's played for much of the past two years with the Greenbelt school's boys varsity team.
But Bond, who moved to goalkeeper before the 2012 playoffs, won't be in the net when the 2014 season starts next week. Instead, he'll be at center back, anchoring — and bringing stability — to the defensive unit as the Raiders begin their climb to the top of the Prince George's County 4A League standings.
The transition may be a smooth one for the 6-foot-2 senior, who already made the move to center back on his club team, Maryland United FC.
“Sweeper really is the same mentality except I got one guy behind me telling me where I need to be,” Bond said. “… At goalie I can only play the ball in my box mostly versus when I'm playing sweeper, if I need to step in there and win the tackle I can step in there and win the tackle.”
Bond could be a difference-maker for a Raiders team that graduated its top defenders after losing to Bowie in the second round of the 2013 Class 4A playoffs, according to coach George Kallas. In Bond, Roosevelt has a skilled and athletic player with a high soccer IQ, Kallas said.
“We'll use his brain power as much as his physical ability,” said Kallas, who is entering his 29th season.
Junior Roshawn Panton said he has already seen Bond make an impact on defense in a scrimmage against Crossland.
“He brings a strength,” Panton said. “When the defense gets broken down, he's the last man to step in and get the ball.”
The Raiders are two years removed from a 4A South Region championship appearance. Bond said he is optimistic that the team can return to that level.
“We were playing really sloppy in our drills and coach said, 'You can play like that and there's enough talent out here that you'll win the county, but I don't want to play like that, because we can win the state,'” Bond said. “I think we got plenty of talent out here, whether we can come together or not, that's going to be the difference.”
Perennial powerhouse DeMatha Catholic graduated 12 seniors, including All-Gazette Player of the Year Arion Sobers, after winning the 2013 Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship, but the Stags remain one of the area's top teams. The Hyattsville school returns several key contributors including midfielder James Gielen and senior goalkeeper Keegan Meyer, who recorded shutouts in 11 of his 13 games started last season.
[The WCAC championship] is definitely the goal. We're going to have a process to go through … to really develop the younger guys,” DeMatha Coach Dafydd Evans said. “But it's fun. It's always exciting to start off a new team again.”
Elsewhere in Prince George's County, look for another big season from the 4A South Region champion Parkdale. Region runner-up Bowie lost most of its lineup but should remain strong, while Charles H. Flowers, High Point and Northwestern could all go deep in the postseason. Laurel's Kelly Marah, who had 21 goals in 2013, could again be among the county's top scorers.