Focus on Sports
'Jacks leave Howard fit to be tied

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Howard Community College put together a perfect league record on the way to the 2003 Maryland Junior College Athletic Conference men’s soccer championship.

The Skipjacks made sure Saturday morning that wouldn’t be the case this year.

Chesapeake College, with only 11 players available, held the reigning state champs to a 2-2, double-overtime tie as freshman Kenny Verardi scored one goal and assisted on the other. Sophomore goalie Kevin Weems also played impressively, finishing with 10 saves as the Skipjacks played the champs absolutely even.

"I couldn’t be any prouder of the guys," said second-year Chesapeake head coach Tony Redman, whose three usual substitutes were unavailable Saturday. "After losing 16-0 to them last year, this was fun."

Howard was the team scrambling at the end of regulation to take the game into overtime, finally drawing even with 10 minutes remaining as Randy Collins scored off a feed from Agyeman Boateng. The teams then battled through 20 minutes of overtime without a winner emerging, but the tie felt like a win to Redman.

"It’s a huge boost – that was last year’s state champion," Redman said after the game. "They’re not the same team they were last year, but I don’t see a great deal of difference between them and Anne Arundel (which handed Chesapeake a 6-1 loss earlier in the week)."

Howard took a 1-0 lead when Carlos Ruiz scored off an Ahmad Hady feed just 10 minutes into the game, but the Dragons wouldn’t score again until Collins’ game-tying goal. Chesapeake’s Ben Startt scored the equalizer from Verardi with 15 minutes left in the first half, and Verardi’s goal midway through the second half from Craig Remenapp had the Skipjacks on the verge of a stunning upset.

Redman said one of the keys was the Skipjacks’ decision, with only 11 players, to pick their spots offensively.

"We went out on the field in a strictly defensive posture," said Redman. "In a situation like that (no substitutes), you have to pick and choose counter-attacking opportunities. We took them when they presented themselves, but basically we were content to spend most of the time in the back two-thirds of the field."

Another key, according to Redman, was the play of Reva Hagins and Remenapp in new positions.

"We moved Reva to post forward, where he would often have two defenders coming to him," said Redman. "When they happened, he dropped the ball back or to one side or another. That created new passing lanes and really opened up the field. We moved Craig from post forward to right wing, and he did a great job on the wing."

Howard had only a slight (12-9) shots advantage, which was another indication that Chesapeake played the champs on relatively equal terms.

Dragon goalie Humberto Rendo finished with seven saves.

Having survived one powerhouse, the Skipjacks (0-1-1) played another when they open their home season Wednesday at 4 p.m. against Prince George’s Community College.

"That’s going to be another tough game," said Redman.

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