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Bears' O'Sullivan attains goals

The Central midfielder produces in yet another facet of the game, scoring 27 times in his final season.

By BRANT JAMES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 3, 2002

BROOKSVILLE -- When Sean O'Sullivan was asked to mark as an underclassman, he did it. When he was asked to create plays for teammates as a junior, he set a school record with 23 assists. When he was asked to step up in the attack this season, he established a record with 27 goals and still produced 21 assists.

O'Sullivan was everything Central coach John Andruss expected and continued a family tradition.

The midfielder's sister, Jennifer, was the Times' North Suncoast Player of the Year in 1994 and 1995 for Springstead. She now plays in the Women's United Soccer Association for the New York Power.

"I knew my weakness was scoring, so I worked on it," said Sean O'Sullivan, who is being recruited by schools such as the University of Chicago. "I knew I had offensive skills in me, and I needed to bring them out. My teammates really backed me. I was lucky to get as many as I did."

Andruss knew the lanky senior had the ability to score, but the coach was pleasantly surprised as O'Sullivan's total grew during the season.

"He scored more goals than I thought he would," Andruss said. "I expected a bunch, just not that many. I never thought he would be that much of a threat."

But he was, in all facets. Defenders who thought they could beat him with physical play found themselves racing to catch up after his quick first touch. Over coverage on him meant he found teammates George Kirshy or Carlos Rodriguez alone on the wings.

Perhaps the best example of O'Sullivan's skill came in a five-minute stretch in which he didn't score.

With Central battling in the waning minutes of an eventual 1-0 loss to Merritt Island in a Class 3A, Region 2 semifinal, O'Sullivan all but willed the Bears into a tie -- twice beating two defenders to long passes in the corner. Once he dribbled along the end line to flick a shot just wide. Another time, he fed Rodriguez at the top of the box, but the midfielder fired high.

The Bears finished the season 18-4-2 and won a district championship. O'Sullivan's physical play and on-field coaching helped buoy Central in those minutes against Merritt Island and throughout the season.

"It was an understanding," O'Sullivan said. "I look at myself as another coach on the field. His words were my actions."

-- Staff writer Brant James can be reached at (800) 333-7505, ext. 1407. Send e-mail to

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