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Preps

Striker with knack for impressive execution gives Eagles punch

When goals are needed, Springstead turns to George Kirshy.

By JOHN SCHWARB
Published December 23, 2003

George Kirshy stayed focused on the ball, dribbling it just out of reach from oncoming feet while continuing forward.

Think this guy is a soccer fanatic? The above scene was not from a recent game, but a postgame handshake.

Even during downtime the Springstead senior can hardly stand to be without a ball. One can probably imagine what he is like during a game.

The striker has been on a tear during the first half of his final high school season, equaling career highs with 19 goals and eight assists. On a team that entered with several outstanding players, the Central transfer has given the Eagles another dimension.

"He just seems to finish balls," Springstead coach Sal Calabrese said. "His ability to maneuver in and out, take a 1-2 pass and finish a ball, it shows on the high school level."

Teammates say he does not look to score as often at the club level, and senior Devin Shaw said Kirshy plays defense in a Sunday league during the summer. But on the high school fields he has 53 goals in three varsity seasons and might crack 30 this year if the 12-1-1 Eagles continue their high-level play.

Kirshy led Central with 15 goals a year ago and returned to Springstead (he attended the school as a freshman and played junior varsity soccer) because he said he needed to drive his freshman brother to school with him.

Gregory Kirshy isn't the only person enjoying the ride.

"We needed someone to step up and put the balls in the net; I know he could fill that role," said Shaw, who leads the team with 12 assists, several of which have gone Kirshy's way.

Shaw and several teammates needed no time to adjust to the newcomer, as Kirshy has been a fixture on Hernando Heat club teams for years. They were used to his alert style of play, which sometimes produces remarkable goals.

Last week in an 8-0 rout of Nature Coast, the Sharks goalkeeper had the ball, crept to the top of the penalty box and kicked away. The ball sailed low into Kirshy at midfield, he took two steps with it and lofted a shot over the keeper and into an empty net.

"That's just brilliant. Soccer smarts, that's what I call it," Calabrese said.

Kirshy can make keepers look bad and, if asked, make attackers look bad, too. When Eagles keeper Ryan Davis had to leave the field after a yellow card in a November game at South Lake, Kirshy took over in goal and stopped a penalty kick, preserving a shutout.

Playing anywhere on the field is fine, sitting is not. In that Nature Coast game, he was pulled in the second half for reserves. Instead of sitting on the bench, he idly dribbled a ball alone behind it. Then after the game, he kept the ball during the "good-game" handshakes.

"I'd play all 90 minutes of every game if I could," Kirshy said. "I hate coming out of the games."

Not as much as opponents hate seeing him in the games.

[Last modified December 23, 2003, 01:33:41]


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