Backof is saving grace for rebuilding Westminster Goalie gives Owls back-to-back shutouts

September 27, 1993|By Glenn Graham | Glenn Graham,Staff Writer

Westminster's Julie Backof had a busy night in goal in last week's soccer game against Thomas Johnson.

After 80 minutes of regulation, two overtime periods and 14 saves by Backof, the Owls walked away with a 1-0 win.

First-year coach Terry Molloy, who has coached at the college and high school level, called it one of the strongest efforts he's seen in goal.

"High school, college, boys or girls -- that's one of the best-played games in goal I've ever seen. She had 14 legitimate saves," Molloy said.

"She broke up a couple of breakaways, tipped some balls over VTC the bar and was very strong in the air," he said.

A key play came in the overtime session when Backof came off her line to cut off the angle on a Patriots' breakaway.

She made the initial save and the rebound came to another opposing attacker, but Backof got back in goal in time to come up with the second save.

"I had some trouble with one-on-ones in a scrimmage against McDonogh, so I was glad to come up with the plays against Thomas Johnson," Backof said.

"It was a great win. Our offense wasn't very potent and they had a constant attack, but we put the ball in the net and that's what counts."

The Owls are supposed to be in a rebuilding mode, with a new coach and a number of contributors from last year's squad lost to graduation.

One of the biggest concerns for Molloy was the defense. Backof, a senior, had some pretty big shoes to fill after Kara Hedges, a four-year starter and first-team All-Metro selection a year ago, graduated after setting school records for wins and shutouts.

"She's filled those shoes admirably. She's really performed exceptionally so far," Molloy said.

The Owls are 3-2 and recorded their second straight shutout with a 5-0 win at Francis Scott Key on Wednesday. Backof didn't have to work as hard for that shutout, but after the previous tough workout, she deserved the rest.

While Hedges was a more polished keeper in her years with the Owls, Backof relies on her athleticism to come up with the big saves.

"Julie's real aggressive and survives on her natural athletic ability," Molloy said.

"She has a great ability to get into the air and get balls while being challenged. She comes out of the goal and takes charge very well."

She also brings her ability to the softball field where last spring she was the county's Player of the Year.

She said she'd like to stay close to home and maybe play both sports in college next year.

But for now, her attention is directed toward getting more shutouts and doing whatever she can to help the Owls win.

"Things are going pretty well and I'm trying my best -- it seems to be working so far," Backof said.

"We're in a rebuilding year working with a totally new system that's more offensive-based. That's a big change, but we're working hard. I like the challenge and just want to do whatever I can to help the team."

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