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County connectors - Williamsport, North grads fly high for SSU

October 27, 2000

County connectors - Williamsport, North grads fly high for SSU



By DAN SPEARS, Staff Writer


SALISBURY, Md. - The Salisbury State University men's soccer roster is littered with players from Baltimore-area programs: Calvert Hall, Loyola, Fallston, Loch Raven, Severna Park.

Tucked in quietly among those big-name schools sit three names from Williamsport - Rusty Tritsch, Steve Ritchie and Matt Bowman - and one from North Hagerstown - John Muto.

No, the four of them did not get lost on their way to college.

"They give us some cracks about being from the country," said Bowman, a sophomore forward for the Sea Gulls. "But we take it in stride."

And then score, in most cases.

The foursome have been huge leaders for Salisbury this season, which enters the Capital Athletic Conference tournament next week with a 14-2 record and a top-10 national ranking.

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"I didn't know if we'd be as good as last year (18-4-1, NCAA final eight), but we have some guys that have stepped up and are playing great," said Tritsch, a senior midfielder and captain. "I'm kinda surprised, but they were doing a good job last year, too. I guess really in the back of your mind, you know the potential is there."

Potential is what brought the four Washington County athletes out to the Eastern Shore, and their talent took over from there. For Tritsch and Ritchie, two seniors, it was a chance to help establish the powerhouse that the Sea Gulls have formed. Bowman and Muto, a freshman forward, now get the chance to keep things going.

That they're doing it together is just an extra bonus.

"I applied here first and was coming and (Rusty) was undecided," Ritchie said. "I don't think it was because we had to go to the same place or anything."

But since they're there, they've leaned on each other.

"I just told (John) to relax," said Bowman, who also played club ball with Muto on the Hagerstown Heat. "We know he could play, but to just let his talent take over. It was the same thing (Rusty and Steve) told me."

"It's made the transition a lot easier," Muto said. "You've got guys there that you've got a little background with, and they're there to push you forward, whereas some kids don't have that chance."

Muto and Bowman have taken those pushes and turned them into full-out assaults on the net.

While the two seniors start in the midfield, the younger duo have become the Sea Gulls' super subs up front. They each play about 15 to 20 minutes a half; effective minutes that find the four of them virtually reading each other's minds.

"With Matt and Steve, you know just how far you can play this ball, or go with that ball," Tritsch said. "It's kinda like reading their mind almost. I can see what they'll do and they know what I'll do. Matt's played with John, so they've got the same feeling."

The only problem has been trying to read everyone else.

"The toughest thing may be looking for everyone else," Ritchie said. "Not just the guys you know."

Yes, the four pep each other up on the field and help each other out, but also let each other be his own person.

"We don't talk all the time, but we do talk old times, winning a state championship," Bowman said. "But we've all got our own lives."

All those separate lives still have one goal - winning.

"The whole team is pretty close. That's another one of our strengths, you do it for the others on the team and not yourself," Muto said. "Everybody pushes through for everyone else."

"It's great. We'd always get made fun of because we're the out-of-towners," Ritchie said. "Now it's, 'Hagerstown's carrying us.'

"But I think we've got a great chance to win a national championship. We're one of the best in the country. It's all up to us."

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