Centennial's goalkeeper makes most of his chances Christine fills in fine for the injured Yetso

November 03, 1992|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,Staff Writer

Even though he's played soccer since the third grade, Centennial goalkeeper Dan Christine is considered a relative newcomer in Columbia soccer circles.

That's because he spent most of those years playing on neighborhood teams instead of at the more competitive traveling-team level. As a result, Christine's road to a high-profile position on one of the top county high school teams has been a winding one.

"He's only gotten serious about soccer in the last two years, so his name is not a household word," Centennial coach Bill Stara said. "But he's very capable and is doing a great job for us."

Christine, a 6-foot, 175-pound junior, has had the difficult task this year of replacing injured all-county goalkeeper Brock Yetso, a sophomore. Yetso, a member of the national under-17 pool, was sensational as the Eagles won a state title and compiled a 14-0-2 record last season.

Christine had only limited chances mopping up behind Yetso last season. And in the game that the most people saw Christine play -- a regional semifinal against Linganore -- he gave up a goal.

"I played pretty well as a sophomore, but had a bad game that day. And it left an impression on a lot of people," Christine said. "So they were surprised when I got the starting job this season. They didn't know what I could do."

Stara knew. Christine played for Stara's club team, the Columbia Phoenix, last spring. That team won the Columbia Memorial Day Tournament in the under-16 division. It also won the Kirkwood Tournament in Delaware.

Stara watched Christine, in his first club-team season, perform well under tournament pressure.

Now, with Christine starting every game, and playing about 80 percent of the time, the second-ranked Eagles (10-0-2, 6-0-1) are on pace to improve upon last season's defensive numbers.

Centennial has six shutouts and has allowed only six goals. Last year, Centennial had seven shutouts and gave up 13 goals.

Christine has allowed five of the six goals this season.

One was on a penalty kick by Mount Hebron's Earl Edwards. "I blocked the first one but was ruled to have moved too soon," Christine said.

Christine's most pressure-packed game was against Oakland Mills Oct. 24. It ended 0-0 after two 10-minute overtime periods. He made three sensational saves.

And he has come through in crucial situations throughout the season.

"There are one or two moments in every game when the goalkeeper has to come up big," Stara said. "Oakland Mills was intense, end-to-end action. That was the most pressure he's faced in high school."

Stara thinks Christine's strength is his hands. "He holds onto the ball well and also has decent concentration."

For the rest of this season, Stara does not intend to replace Christine with Yetso, who is now healthy enough to play.

"Dan's the No. 1 man," Stara said. "You go home with whoever you came to the dance with."

Christine, who was more serious about baseball than soccer until he joined the Phoenix, has plenty of coaching help at Centennial. Stara was a college goalkeeper.

Yetso has also helped Christine, who is Centennial's representative on the countywide Student Government Association and who holds a 3.5 grade-point average (out of 4.0) while taking an advanced curriculum.

"Brock knows a lot about what to do at different times in the game," Christine said. "We're good friends and he's helped me out."

For now, Christine savors each game. He knows his moment in the sun may not last forever. He won't be guaranteed a starting job next season, when he'll have to compete not only against Yetso, but against talented Luke Timmons, who'll be a sophomore.

"Give him [Christine] credit. Your chances of playing behind Brock are limited," Stara said. "He's seized the moment and is making the best of it."

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