When you listen to Mahlon Moore discuss his aspiration to own a business some day, you get the feeling that the handsome 17-year-old just isn't talking idly.
And if Moore runs a business the way he is helping Lake Braddock dominate Northern Virginia soccer this spring, who is going to deny him the opportunity?
"I'm more of a thinker," said the senior striker, describing his prowess on the field. "I think I'm best known for my thinking ability under pressure.
"And I'm not greedy with the ball but I know sometimes you have to be in order to get the recognition."
Then he gave the realistic premise why he is hesitant to pass: "You can't score without the ball."
And fortunately for Lake Braddock, which won its first seven games, he isn't passing up shots.
When Matt Wayland, a forward, was injured , Moore moved up from his midfielder position to strengthen the front line. He had scored a district-high 13 goals last year, and this year he has opposing defenses watching his every move.
Moore's seven goals and six assists have his coach and opponents lauding his accomplishments. "He's certainly on a tear," says W.T. Woodson Coach Greg Benson. "He's so fast. He's hard to stop when he's in the open field."
Lake Braddock Coach Jac Cicala, who also coaches Moore's club team and is considered "a friend," said, "This year he has been an instrumental part of the attack. He's a better midfielder, but he has adapted really well.
"He's got a crackerjack shot. He can not only whip off a shot, but kicks it hard. You don't find many strikers who can put the ball in the net consistently like he has. He's so composed, too. He doesn't get nervous in tight games."
In part, Moore attributes his development to the teachings of Cicala. "I have good skills. But I'm not bragging or anything because I've had good coaching. Yeah, I have a lot of speed, strength . . . but I have learned that most of my skills in soccer fall back on him."
Moore first played on varsity his sophomore year and was a "little intimidated" by the older players. But his junior year he "turned it on" and this year he finally feels he is "inspiring 'the boys.' "
Before the 1985 season began, Moore compared the team this year with last year's, which had the talent but not the enthusiasm. He was hardly optimistic.
"I said last year we had a lot of talent, but we didn't have the desire or team leadership," Moore said in trying to account for the team's turn around this season. "With all good teams, you have to have the desire to win, and I think we have that so far. We have the leadership on the field and 'the boys' are willing to practice. 'The boys,' they really want to work. And that's the key to our success.
"When we're out on the field, we know we have to play because everybody's out to get us. We're rated No. 1 right now, but when it first started out, we were one of the underdogs. I'd like to stay the underdog and come up from there.
"Now that I see 'the boys' working together, I don't have my doubts at all."
Moore said the Bruins are providing him shots, with good distribution from wings Kevin Autrey and Charlie Volpe and midfielders Steve Suter and Steve Szczypinskai. And stopper John Dumbleton and goalkeeper Mark Wayland are giving the team balance on the other end.
"We have a lot of talent around me," said Moore. "We're all good friends, thinkers and talkers, so I have been getting a lot of passes from them.
"Then when I get the ball, my main job is to score to win that game. And that's why we're winning."
The Bruins' 3-2 victory over Annandale was indicative of the team's strategy this year: give the ball to Moore. He had two goals and Autrey had the other.
For Moore, the prodding of a schoolboy friend began his soccer career.
"I remember I was sitting around when I was younger," said Moore, who was 6 or 7. "I had a friend named Andy Kyle. He came down the street and we just started playing around with the ball. He's the one who got me started."
Then, smiling like anyone reflecting on the ignorance of youth, he said, "We were playing Little League and running around not knowing what the ball was. We just knew we had to kick it between the bars. We ran around in little packs."
He has come a long way since the "pack" days. "Beyond a doubt," Cicala said, "he is one of the best midfielders we've had at Lake Braddock."