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Ladimir lands county soccer star

Former Hudson player convinces Gulf forward Alex Maric to come to Lenoir-Rhyne.

By STEVE LEE, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 7, 2002

NEW PORT RICHEY -- Bobby Ladimir coaches a college soccer team in dire need of offense.

Thursday's signing of Alex Maric, Pasco County's leading scorer last season, could be just what the Lenoir-Rhyne coach is looking for.

The Gulf graduate signed an academic/athletic scholarship at the Division II school in Hickory, N.C., that will cover his $20,000 tuition.

Maric chose the Bears over offers from Saint Leo, University of Tampa and Lander University (Greenwood, S.C.) in part, he said, "because coach Ladimir talked to me for almost a year."

"I think that at our level he can be a really good asset, offensively," said Ladimir, a former Hudson player who made a habit of signing county players his past three seasons at Newberry (S.C.).

Cory Morgan led Lenoir-Rhyne in scoring in 2000 with 20 goals, but fell to just two goals last season as the Bears went 5-14, 1-6 in the South Atlantic Conference. Lenoir-Rhyne totaled just 28 goals, scoring only 1.5 goals per game. Michael Smith led the Bears with six goals last season.

Maric scored 78 goals in three seasons at Gulf. That included last season's 41 goals, five shy of the school record held by Gulf coach and former Buccaneer Sam Koleduk.

"If we got the ball to his foot, he was one of the most dangerous guys around," Koleduk said of the Russian-born forward, who helped lead the Bucs to 18 wins and their first playoff berth in nine seasons.

Ladimir, last year's conference coach of the year who switched from Newberry to Lenoir-Rhyne in March, plans to pair Morgan and Maric up front in the fall.

"By adding a kid like Alex, we'll have another dimension," Ladimir said. "He'll create an additional offensive threat so (defenses) can't key on one person."

Ladimir, who has watched Maric since his sophomore season, likes Maric's touch around the net.

"There's a difference between putting a hole in the back of the net and tucking it behind the goalkeeper," Ladimir said.

"It's not hard to find big, strong guys that can hammer the ball. It's harder to find the guys who can finesse it. Alex will beat you with finesse."

Maric graduated with a 3.3 grade-point average and will major in computer science.

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