Emmerman is potent midfielder
By BRANT JAMES
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 23, 2001
They were perfect snapshots of Greg Emmerman's season.
With Springstead leading 1-0 against Central on Friday night, the Eagles sophomore midfielder took a pass back toward his half line from teammate Stephen Bates, then surgically flicked it ahead to forward Ian Haselbarth.
The junior easily ran onto the ball and beat goaltender Matt Berger for a 2-0 lead in an eventual 4-0 win.
In the last 10 minutes of the game, Emmerman ran onto a pass that Ricky Bennett pushed toward the sideline, blazed into the box and rolled a shot between Berger and the near post.
Emmerman, who's rapidly becoming Springstead's most valuable offensive player, had added another goal and assist to his burgeoning total.
Although Bates leads the 10-3-2 Eagles with 20 goals, Emmerman has contributed more points (29) with 11 goals and 18 assists. He trails Bobby Colon by one for the team lead in assists. And to think this time last year Emmerman wasn't sure he belonged.
"Last year, I was nervous," said Emmerman, who had four goals and 10 assists as a freshman. "I was terrified during the game, but I feel a lot better in my spot during the game now. I feel like I can play, like I'm more a part of the team."
Working out with Bates, one of the more self-confident Eagles, has helped.
"We work together, usually just me and him, on the weekend," Bates said. "We work well together. He's a great player."
Emmerman and Bates play in the Clearwater Chargers club, but in different age levels.
"I train a lot harder, take it a lot more seriously (this year)," Emmerman said. "I try to play harder in games."
When he's playing hard, Emmerman is one of the quickest on the field. His ability to reach loose balls is menacing for defenders, who often have to foul him to keep him from turning upfield quickly and looking for Bates in the middle.
Emmerman had one such encounter Friday, when Central's Mike Baumann arrived too late to a loose ball along the sideline and hooked him down.
Disgusted, Emmerman yelled at Baumann, "Come on, if you can't keep up ..." before being instructed by coach Sal Calabrese to move along.
"(Baumann) is my friend and we play together," Emmerman said after the game.
So it was a friendly barb?
"At the time, it wasn't friendly," he said. "But now it is."
With so many to choose from, the question is, what's better -- a goal or an assist?
"Doesn't matter to me," Emmerman said. "Just as long as we win."
NOT NOW: Bates said a win over Central has little meaning until the playoffs.
"If we beat them in districts, then it'll be sweet," he said.
Bates wasn't too impressed with securing the second seed in Class 2A, District 8 and a first-round date with last-place Mitchell.
"(Getting the second seed) doesn't really help us," Bates said. "We still end up playing a garbage team."
DROUGHT: A week before the only season that really matters -- the postseason -- Central suddenly is struggling to score.
The Bears (9-4-3) were shut out 1-0 by Lecanto before the 4-0 defeat at Springstead.
Offense seemingly would be a simpler matter these days, as Central has had its goals-leader Dave Bernard (19) back for four games. He had missed much of the first half of the season with an ankle injury.
"The last two games we have not played as well as we should, especially against Lecanto. That was a sad game," Central coach John Andruss said. "We are getting away from what we were doing early in the season, which was playing more possession-type offense. We're looking to get it up and get in the back of the goal, but we cannot just try to knock it into the back of these guys. They're going to pick it up every time."
ROUGH TIME: Hernando slogged into the final week of the regular season at 2-14, seventh-seeded in the 2A-8 playoffs.
The Leopards -- with both wins over first-year, last-place Mitchell -- will meet third-seeded host Central in the first round, Jan. 29-Feb. 2.
"I know we'll play hard," Leopards first-year coach Tino Vasquez said. "We have some kids that have skills but unfortunately one season is not enough to blend it. We need to maintain that consistency that's not been there: passes that went errant, people in one place when someone thinks they're in another, not making the most of it when the moment comes."
Hernando enters the week off a mercy rule-shortended 12-2 loss to Springstead. The defeat was typical, Vasquez said, of a team that desperately lacks "battle experience."
DISTRICT APPROACH: Calabrese seemed happier than usual with the Eagles' first goal Friday, when Bates rifled a direct free kick over the Bears' wall and into the net.
"Two years ago when I took over, we worked on that and he made a lot of those," Calabrese said. "This year, he was missing them and we need those.,When I saw him finally finish that one, I was glad because he's been working hard and maybe he finally broke the ice."
BENCH MARK: Calabrese said Friday that he planned to play his little-used bench in conference games Monday against Lecanto and Tuesday (Crystal River).
With his district seeding settled, he said, the only thing at stake were "patches" -- the number of players he could place on the All-Gulf Coast Athletic Conference team. The higher a squad finishes, the more players it's alloted to the first team.
"If we beat those guys, maybe we move up behind (first place) Crystal River and get a couple extra patches," Calabrese said. "Ian (Haselbarth), Jason Peirce and (Ryan) Greene have not complained about game-time at all -- they've been real troopers -- and I'm going to get them in."
2A, Dist. 8 pairings
No. 1 Hudson, first-round bye.
No. 2 Springstead vs. No. 7 Mitchell.
No. 3 Central vs. No. 6 Hernando.
No. 4 Pasco vs. No. 5 Zephyrhills.
© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South St. Petersburg, FL 33701 727-893-8111