Tim Barger and Rich Pellegrini expect to be placed under a microscope this season as members of the defending East Coast Conference champion Towson State University men's soccer team.
Barger, a Fallston High graduate, Barger, a Fallston High graduate, and Pellegrini, a John Carroll graduate, are at the center of their respective family soccer heritages. They each have brothers playing the game at different levels.
Barger has four brothers, all of whom have played soccer. His brother Joe, 24, is a defender with the Major Soccer League's runner-up Baltimore Blast and the American Soccer League champion Maryland Bays.
Tim Barger, the biggest among his siblings at 6-2, 175-pounds, knows that his efforts at Towson can sometimes bring comparison to brother Joe's success.
"Hopefully, there won't be many people comparing us," says Barger, 21, who has started for the Tigers since his freshman season. "Of course, when they do, it's a good feeling. I'm glad Joe is doing well and it makes me want to play better."
Mike Barger, 16, is playing at Calvert Hall, and Tim's eldest brother, Greg, 25, set the current Harford County scoring record (90 goals) when he attended Fallston.
As for Pellegrini, he has an older brother, Mike, 21, playing at Drexel University (Pa.), and a younger brother, John, 17, a midfielder at John Carroll.
Although he is the family's only goalie, Pellegrini, 18, says he rarely feels like the odd man out.
"John respects what I've done," says Pellegrini, a 6-1, 170-pounder.
"But he probably looks up to Mike more because their positions are more similar."
Mike, a junior, made a name for himself last year, scoring 13 goals and three assists to lead the Dragons to second place in the conference tournament.
Drexel lost the title to Towson, 2-1, but Mike, an electrical engineering major, was voted the ECC's Scholar-Athlete.
"I had to play against Rich's brother in that game," Barger recalls. "We still kid Rich about it sometimes. But with Rich, he knows Towson comes first, 100 percent."
Rich has often considered the scenario of playing against Mike, which could happen when the Tigers play host to Drexel on Sept. 22. He admits it is a difficult picture to imagine.
Says Pellegrini, "I'll just try to block out the fact that he's my brother for one game, for one day. But he's still my brother. He's still family."
Along with a soccer heritage, Pellegrini has inherited Brian Hinterberger's perch in the goal.
As Towson's keeper a year ago, Hinterberger was crucial in helping the Tigers, who outscored their opponents at home, 23-4, on the way to winning their first-ever ECC title.
Towson finished with a 12-6-1 record, matching the 1979 record for wins.
Rich recorded a shutout in his first game this season, a 1-0 victory over Johns Hopkins. But he lost his next game to George Washington University, 2-1.
"For the first half of that game, we were under an extreme amount of presure and it was difficult, trying to do what you do in practice in the game," says Pellegrini.
Pellegrini recovered to pick up his second shutout Wednesday when the Tigers recorded a 5-0 league-opening victory over Hofstra (2-1-0). The win improved the Tigers home record to 12-0-1.
"Rich is starting to realize that sometimes the college game is going to be rough on goalies," says Towson coach Frank Olzewski. "But he's gaining good experience and he's going to be an outstanding player."
Before Pellegrini had arrived last year, Barger had already established himself as a leader in the Towson backfield.
Barger has been a starter since he first donned a Towson uniform and was honored as the Tiger's Freshman of the Year in 1987.
"He has the ability to get back and forth and cover the deep midfield and still play good defense," says Olzewski. "He's a great athlete and he's great in the air."