Hartlove grows into role as second Spirit goalie

January 29, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

In the space of three months, Spirit goalie Brian Hartlove has gone from what coaches call a project to a contributor, from a bench-warmer to a participant.

"After only half a season," coach Kenny Cooper said, "Brian is getting the job done."

Hartlove, a rookie, came to the Spirit by way of Perry Hall High, Es- sex Community College and West Virginia University. He is 27, but until last fall was untrained as a professional indoor soccer goalie.

Cooper, a former goalie himself, has nursed him along. No. 1 goalie Cris Vaccaro, in his 13th year of indoor soccer, has helped break in Hartlove to the National Professional Soccer League.

"Cris thrives on playing," said Cooper as the Spirit prepared for its game tomorrow (2:05 p.m.) against the Dayton Dynamo at the Baltimore Arena. "But to win consistently in this league, you need two goalies. The difference between Brian at the start of the season and now is night and day."

Hartlove's only start was 11 days ago against the Canton Invaders. Cooper, aware that January was the Spirit's busiest month, with 11 games, wanted to give Vaccaro a breather. The Spirit won, 12-7.

"After the game, a Canton player came over," Cooper said. "He asked, 'Your goalkeeper, who is he? He's great.' "

Hartlove came to the Spirit as an aggressive goalie who often committed himself too early by diving or lunging. Result? He was frequently out of position for an opponent's follow-up shot.

"I learned from Cris and Kenny that top goalies stay on their feet, hold their position and take up space," Hartlove said. "When I slipped back into my old habits, Cris reminded me."

Aside from his win over Canton, Hartlove has had other strong moments. After Vaccaro hurt his wrist in the first quarter against Dayton early this month, Hartlove came on to register his first pro victory.

When Vaccaro took an 11-3, first-quarter pummeling from the Harrisburg Heat last week, Cooper inserted Hartlove. The Spirit lost, but the rookie kept the game reasonably close.

Sunday against the Kansas City Attack, the Spirit was leading 12-10 when Vaccaro drew a penalty. Hartlove gave up the shootout goal, making it 12-11, then stopped Kansas City's power play for the next two minutes.

"He made two spectacular saves," Cooper said. "Then Cris came back and made another. Then Timmy Wittman scored a two-point, empty-net goal to wrap up the [14-11] win. All this in the space of a few minutes at the end of the game."

Cooper likes to think Hartlove is following in the tradition of distinguished Baltimore goalies, dating to the Blast's years here. Keith Van Eron, Scott Manning, Vaccaro. Now Hartlove?

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