Nattans: The defender who keeps going, and going . . . Former Loyola star iron man for Bays SOCCER

July 23, 1993|By Jamison Hensley | Jamison Hensley,Staff Writer

The soccer player known as "Goose" at Loyola College is now called "Iron Man" by the Baltimore Bays.

Jeff Nattans has played every minute of every game as a defender with the Bays this year, heading into tonight's season finale. He has compiled 1,384 minutes of playing time. That is 200 minutes, or 2 1/4 games, more than the closest teammate.

"I haven't taken him out because he is a very stable player," Bays head coach Kevin Healey said. "It's all due to him playing consistently and his conditioning."

Another reason is that, under league rules, only four substitutions a game are allowed. Therefore, strikers and midfielders -- who play the most active positions -- are substituted more frequently.

But Nattans adds another view.

"I usually take the other team's top scorer," said Nattans, who has scored two goals off set plays this season. "I get a good read on what he likes to do. A defender who just comes into the game will not have the same insight on that player."

The 6-foot-2 defender is a graduate of Calvert Hall and Loyola College, and played varsity basketball and soccer for three years at both schools. At Calvert Hall, Nattans' defensive skills on the court were tuned by regularly guarding Duane Ferrell, now of the NBA's Atlanta Hawks, in practice for two years.

"That helped, playing against him," Nattans said. "Because in basketball and soccer, defense is mainly getting position and sliding. The footwork is similar in both sports."

By maintaining a 3.9 grade-point average at Loyola, Nattans earned Academic All-America honors.

Nattans was a fullback on the Greyhounds' only two soccer teams to make the NCAA tournament.

Nattans, who works for Deloitte and Touche accounting firm, relies on more than just his physical ability on the playing field.

"Jeff is an intelligent player," Healey said. "When I say that it means his understanding of the game allows him to not try to do too much. He knows his strong and weak points."

He played professionally for two years with the Maryland Bays, including the season when they won the American Professional Soccer League title. To continue his pro career in soccer, Nattans must juggle his schedule regularly to make two weekly practices and 16 games, including four weekend road trips.

"As long as I'm active, I want to play at the most competitive level I can," Nattans said.

BAYS TONIGHT

Opponent: Richmond Kickers

Site: UMBC Stadium

Time: 7:30

Radio: WITH (1230 AM)

Outlook: The Bays (5-10, 57 points, seventh in the Atlantic Division of the United States Interregional Soccer League) were eliminated from playoff contention when the Charleston Battery virtually clinched the fourth and final postseason spot with a 4-1 win over the Columbia Spirit on Saturday. Richmond (6-8, 62 points) is fifth in the Atlantic Division. The Kickers must win one and possibly the last two remaining games to qualify for the playoffs. Richmond must finish in the top four, or as the fifth-place team come within nine points of fourth place. Charleston is 10 points ahead of the Kickers. In their last meeting, the Bays defeated the Kickers in Richmond, 3-2, on May 28.

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