The Whitman boys’ soccer team doesn’t have a player that weighs more than 180 pounds, and when Poolesville was physically knocking around the Vikings early last week, Coach Dave Greene had to make adjustments to take advantage of his team’s speed on the edge in the 3-1 win.
The adjustment was simply a microcosm for Greene, whose resourcefulness with his roster has been key heading into this fall. After losing six starters for a variety of reasons from last year’s squad, he now starts three players who were cut in 2011. And he’s had to rely on a scrappy goalkeeper as much as ever in these thin times.
With graduation losses and club team departures hitting the entire league, the metabolism of Montgomery’s 4A South has sped up this season, but the quality of soccer remains.
Four teams remain undefeated through the first three weeks of play, including ninth-ranked Whitman (4-0), and the six-team group looks as though it will be a potential breeding ground for another state championship side. No. 3 Walter Johnson (3-0) was the 4A runner-up a year ago, but No. 4 Wootton (5-0), Richard Montgomery (4-0) and Whitman are looking to make a move once league play commences later this month.
“When that division schedule begins,” said Greene, “every game is going to be incredible.”
The Poolesville matchup was an important litmus test for Greene, after his team was getting physically “manhandled” the first 15 minutes. That’s when he pushed his forwards to play at a faster pace, using strikers Spencer Meschter and Luke Barber to wear down the Falcons. Greene is still mindful of what his team will face against Wootton and Walter Johnson – what he believes are two of the more physically built teams in the county.
One of the surprises offensively has been Barber, who has scored six goals already. And goalie Mark Cameron is one of the team’s best kept secrets, giving up just two goals this season and solidifying a defense that still carries question marks as the first month of the season draws to an end.
The sleeper could very well be Churchill (2-2), a side that has played the toughest schedule in the league after electing to swap two of its nonconference games this month with tough private school challenges. Coach Arnold Tarzy wanted to take on Mount St. Joseph’s, Urbana and Good Counsel in a three-game swing – and his team emerged 1-2 after that slate, which included a 2-0 loss to Good Counsel. Crispin Muessle, a Bucknell signee, has scored in every game for Churchill, and is just one of two returning starters.
“Given the fact that we’re a brand new team on the field, with just two returning starters, makes it tough, huh?” Tarzy said. “I would say the one that is the best of the four W’s, [Walter Johnson, Wootton, Whitman, Winston Churchill] will come out of this region.”
Senior Sean Cowdrey scored his first goal of the season to lift DeMatha over Spalding 1-0 last Friday. Gonzaga returned from its two game road trip to Denver with two wins, beating national powers Regis Jesuit (CO) 2-0 and Rockhurst (MO) 2-0 last weekend. Episcopal opened its season with three wins in three days last week, with junior forward Evan Fisher scoring four of the team’s six goals in wins over Woodberry Forest, Cape Henry and Collegiate. Whitman, which has outscored opponents 11-2 this season, makes its debut in the Top 10.
1. DeMatha (3-0-1) LW: 1
2. Gonzaga (4-0-1) LW: 2
3. Walter Johnson (3-0) LW: 3
4. Wootton (5-0) LW: 4
5. St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes (6-0) LW: 5
6. Episcopal (3-0) LW: 6
7. Paul VI Catholic (3-1) LW: 7
8. Marriotts Ridge (3-0) LW: 8
9. Whitman (4-0) LW: NR
10. Quince Orchard (3-1) LW: 10