Friday, Feb. 8, 2008

2003 All-County Boys’ Soccer Team: Defense the name of the game for county boys’ teams

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by Adam Rubenstein, Ted Black, Derek Toney and Terron Hampton

Staff Writers

The 2003 boys’ soccer season in the county featured several stingy defenses, one significant turnaround and a private school team finally grasping a championship after a three-year drought. Here is the Star⁄Gazette 2003 All-County Boys’ Soccer team:

Player of the Year

Keith Vereb, DeMatha, senior, defender — There’s not much more to say about Vereb except that he was clearly the best player in the county this year and one of the best in the state. Vereb was a great player on the field with the personality to match. The senior took on a leadership role and helped the Stags win the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference championship this season, scoring eight goals from his defensive spot. More impressive is that Vereb helped DeMatha post 10 shutouts en route to a 16-2-2 record this season. The WCAC first-team selection is headed to Maryland next fall. The league title was DeMatha’s first in Vereb’s distinguished four-year career at the Hyattsville school.

Coach of the Year

Sean Flynn, Bladensburg — Heading into his first season as the Mustangs’ coach, Flynn saw a roster minus 17 kids that had played for Bladensburg last year. That squad went 10-3. This season, a new-look team with only five returnees bettered that, going 13-3 and winning the first postseason game in the program’s history when it defeated Douglass in the 3A East Region semifinals. The Mustangs’ dropped a 1-0 decision in the region final to Howard County’s Wilde Lake. The Mustangs scored 97 goals and earned all of their victories by shutout — a performance unlike anything Flynn said he expected. Flynn loses two seniors to graduation, but nearly the entire roster is slated to return next fall.

First Team

Will Chism, McNamara, senior, goalie — A first-team all-WCAC selection, Chism averaged 15 saves per game and stopped three of four penalty shots he defended this season. He backed up a Mustangs’ defense that allowed two goals against eventual league champion DeMatha.

Justin Colbert, DeMatha, junior, striker — DeMatha coach Dafydd Evans said Colbert brought ‘‘imagination” to the Stags’ attack. A first-team All-WCAC selection this season, Colbert scored seven goals and added four assists. He was the Stags primary scoring threat last season and was pivotal in creating many of the team’s scoring opportunities.

Matt Davis, Grace Brethren, senior, midfielder — Davis earned his second consecutive spot on the Star⁄Gazette first team by leading the Eagles to the Potomac Valley Athletic Conference finals and a third-place finish in the Association of Christian Schools’ International Tournament. Davis had 17 goals and 15 assists, leading the Eagles to a 16-3-1 mark. During his five years on the Grace Brethren varsity team, Davis collected 45 goals and 51 assists as the Eagles went 75-25-6 in that span.

Chris Flynn, Bowie, junior, striker — One of the more skilled ball-handlers in the county 4A league, Flynn helped the Bulldogs reach the South Region final by scoring 14 goals and adding nine assists. Capable of scoring from long range with either leg, Flynn should return next season to help the Bulldogs in their quest for the region title.

Travis Gafford, Roosevelt, senior, defender — Gafford’s steady presence helped the Raiders remain a force in the County 4A league. The Raiders only allowed 12 goals during the fall with Gafford tallying two of his own.

Emmanuel Kofi, Bladensburg, senior, striker — A threat every time he touched the ball, Kofi led the Mustangs with 15 goals and six assists this season Kofi, has aspirations of continuing his soccer career in college but now will focus on the hardwood on the Mustangs’ boys’ basketball team this winter. After starting and making a noticeable impact in the last few games of the 2002 season, Kofi entered this fall as the Mustangs’ main go-to guy.

‘‘He showed why he needed to be on the team,” said Flynn.

James Kpainay, Bladensburg, sophomore, defender — In his second varsity season, Kpainay’s has shown extraordinary versatility, picking up four goals and two assists while playing several defensive positions. Kpainay, who came to the area from Liberia, also plays basketball at Bladensburg. Flynn said he uses Kpainay as the main marking back on an opposing team’s top player.

Melvin Leon, High Point, senior, striker — Last year’s Star⁄Gazette Boys’ Soccer Player of the Year, Leon was the top performer in the public leagues with 13 goals and 12 assists. In three of his four varsity seasons, he helped the Beltsville school to the state 4A semifinals including a state runner-up spot in 2002.

Kendell Quashie, High Point, senior, defender — A midfielder most of last season, Quashie moved to defense and helped the Eagles (15-2-1) to a perfect record in County 4A league competition. The Eagles, who lost to Old Mill in the state 4A semifinals, allowed 21 goals in 18 games thanks to Quashie stopping ‘‘countless attacks,” said coach Ken Griffith.

Anton Render, McNamara, senior, striker — Render was the WCAC’s leading scorer this fall, recording 18 goals and four assists. Just to show how important Render was to the McNamara attack this season, he played a part in 22 of the team’s 27 goals this season, more than 80 percent of the team’s offensive production.

Jonathan Riley, Riverdale Baptist, junior, striker — After his family relocated to the area last summer, Riley arrived at the Upper Marlboro school and provided instant offense. Riley scored 28 goals and added seven assists as the Crusaders finished 15-3-1 after going 4-5-2 last year.

Roba Ahmed, Roosevelt, senior, sweeper — Along with teammate Travis Gafford, Roba spearheaded a tight Raider defensive unit. Roosevelt’s defense helped propel the team into the 4A South Region semifinals.

James Rosenfelder, Pallotti, senior, midfielder — Though illness kept him from playing in the Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association B Conference semifinals, Rosenfelder was a key reason the Laurel private school made it that far. He had 20 goals and nine assists for the Panthers (8-11-3), earning all-league honors.

Jeremiah Wildoner, Riverdale Baptist, freshman, striker — In his first full varsity season, Wildoner helped the young and improved Crusaders by scoring 28 goals and adding eight assists. Wildoner was a key component in Riverdale’s successful turnaround this season and will be one of many players from this year’s roster returning in 2004.

Second Team

Chris Barnes, Flowers; Jeff Casey, Bowie; Louis Collins, Gwynn Park; J.P. Coves, DeMatha ; Phillip Grossmiller, Bowie; Cordell Hodnett, Gwynn Park; Greg Howard, Roosevelt; Stanley Kelly, Gwynn Park; Brian Lee, Pallotti; Ferron Lewis, Bladensburg; Taylor Lewis, Gwynn Park; Andrew Quinn, DeMatha; Elmer Romero, High Point; Jose Ruiz, Bladensburg; Ange Souagnon, Flowers; Justin Garrett, Grace Brethren; Brian Van Vliet, Grace Brethren.