Though it wasn't a victory, Calverton first-year coach Kwame Darko took the Cougars' season-opening 0-0 tie against Key School as a good sign.

Last season the Cougars fell to their Maryland Independent School Athletic League rival, 8-0. Darko was impressed at the defense his team played against Key.

"We are really fast back there on defense, and they will just go down and battle for every ball," Darko said. "They never seem to give up, and they hate to lose."

Calverton (5-0-2, 3-0-1 MISAL) has had an impressive run, thanks to senior sweeper Chris Gattau, whose leadership and tenacity have made the difference for the Cougars' defense, Darko said.

The Cougars' defense has also received significant contributions from junior Hank Meinhardt and sophomore Ryan Hutchins, both marking backs, and junior Taylor DeBord, a rookie goalkeeper. The Cougars' defense has five shutouts and has allowed less than a goal per game.

DeBord had not played varsity goalkeeper before this season and wanted to play as a defender this year. But after talking with Darko, DeBord reconsidered. Before a 4-4 tie Thursday, he had notched 317 minutes without being scored on this season.

Defense isn't the sole reason for Calverton's success, though.

During its seven games this season, Calverton has scored 45 goals. Junior Mickey Tessaye, an attacking midfielder, leads the team with nine goals, and senior striker John Brozena has 7 goals and 4 assists.

Perfect Timing

Patuxent junior Eric Crupi picked the perfect time to score his first goal of the season in a 1-1 tie against Leonardtown on Wednesday.

Crupi, a forward, scored Patuxent's tying goal 15 minutes into the second half off a corner kick assist from senior midfielder Shane Malamphy.

"Crupi is seeing more time up top each week and is making the most of his minutes," said Patuxent Coach Mike Malamphy. "Of course to get that goal and secure a point for our team in this tight SMAC conference race was a great bonus."

Patuxent (2-1-1 Southern Maryland Athletic Conference, 4-1-2 overall) had trailed 1-0 after Leonardtown freshman Sean Buckley scored seven minutes into the contest.

Leonardtown (2-2-2, 3-3-2) managed several good shots on goal in overtime, but Patuxent's goalkeeper, junior Eric Olsen, continued his streak of 40 overtime minutes this season without giving up a goal.