In goal, Boehmcke stands out Spirit rookie makes good first impression SOCCER

November 19, 1993|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Staff Writer

From an early age, Shawn Boehmcke was destined to be a soccer goalie. Asthma prohibited him from playing anywhere else on the field.

In the years since, Boehmcke has outgrown a lot of things, for he stands 6 feet 4. He has even outgrown asthma.

"Whenever I played in the field when I was growing up, I'd have asthma attacks," said Boehmcke, the Spirit's rookie goalie. "So they stuck me in the goal for most of the game."

In eighth grade, he told his coach he was tired of standing in the goal and wanted to play midfield. He did, scoring a few goals, but when he was one of 120 candidates for the next year's freshman team at Chaminade High on Long Island, he heeded the coach's advice and took up residence in the goal.

"In youth ball, you know how shots go over kids' heads?" Boehmcke said. "That never happened to me. I was always tall for my age."

The former Loyola College star stood tall in the goal last week in Canton. In his National Professional Soccer League debut, he made 19 saves in the Spirit's 17-15 win over the Invaders. For now, he is the No. 2 goalie ahead of Brian Hartlove and behind starter Cris Vaccaro.

"Shawn will suit up as the No. 2," said Spirit coach Kenny Cooper, referring to the game tonight at 7:35 against the Harrisburg Heat at the Baltimore Arena. "He has one game, played well and has one win. Can he do it again? We'll see."

Cooper hinted last week that he might use Boehmcke on the road against Harrisburg or Canton, since it would be demanding of Vaccaro, 35, to make starts on successive nights in cities separated by a six-hour bus ride.

"It looks like you'll get some playing time," Cooper told him during the week. Boehmcke interpreted that to mean he'd play a few minutes near the end of a blowout. Last Friday, Cooper told him to be ready to play. Only hours before the Canton game, Boehmcke heard the magic words: "You'll start."

Canton Memorial Civic Center is an inhospitable place for visitors, especially when it is packed with Invader fans. It is small (capacity 3,670) and noisy.

"It's not an easy place to play," said veteran Tim Wittman. "It's like pinball. Boehmcke adjusted quickly. I knew of him when he was at Loyola. He has good heart."

Boehmcke had a brilliant career at Loyola. As a four-year starter, he had a school-record 42 shutouts, seventh highest total in NCAA Division I history. His record as a senior last fall was 16-4-1, including 13 shutouts, a school record.

There's no such thing as a shutout in the NPSL, but Boehmcke will get another chance to spell Vaccaro. He earned that in Canton.

SPIRIT TONIGHT

Opponent: Harrisburg Heat

Site: Baltimore Arena

Time: 7:35

Radio: WWLG (1360 AM)

Tickets: Many available

Outlook: The Spirit is one of two undefeated teams in the NPSL. The Heat is 1-4 after losing two home games last weekend, one to the Spirit. Bill Becher and Doug Miller lead Harrisburg in points with 18 and 14, respectively. Paul Wright continues to pace the Spirit, with 19 points, followed by Tim Wittman (12). Goran Hunjak and Barry Stitz are probable after missing last weekend with sprained ankles. Fans are urged to wear red ribbons on their right arms tonight as a gesture of support for Baltimore County police officer James Beck, who was shot while on duty Oct. 31. The Spirit will donate $1 from each ticket purchased for tonight's game to a recovery fund for the hospitalized Beck.

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