DeMatha halfback Chris Mercier recorded an assist in a 1-0 victory over defending Metro Conference soccer champion St. John's last week, but the 5-foot-9 senior was instrumental in the win because of much more than that one play.

Mercier's midfield play has been a key for DeMatha, which improved to 6-2-1 overall. It is 3-1-1 in league play including victories over highly-touted O'Connell, Ireton and St. John's.

"You always have doubts when you play such good teams," said Mercier. "That was the problem the past three years. We always felt like we could hang with these teams, but we never really felt like we could go out and beat them. Now, we know we can beat them, and it's a big difference."

To beat St. John's, DeMatha knew it had to stifle Cadets All-Met midfielder Andy Zamora. Mercier and his teammates used a short passes in the first half mixed with some long-ball defense in the second period to shut down Zamora and the Cadets.

"Andy is a very strong, physical player," said Mercier. "He runs the St. John's midfield so we knew if we could handle him, we could control St. John's. And it worked."

Mercier has three goals and four assists this fall. -- David Levine