Goal-oriented Riedlbauer feels at home with Bays

January 14, 1994|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,Staff Writer

Scoring goals had never been a major problem for Baltimore Bays rookie Eric Riedlbauer.

When Bays coach Kevin Healey asked him to come out for the team this season, his cannon shot was a big reason.

Finding the net for the first time with the Bays was a little tougher than expected, but once Riedlbauer got his first goal -- in the third game of the season -- there's been no looking back.

"In the first two games, I was really nervous and didn't do much of anything," Riedlbauer said.

"Getting that first goal against Delaware helped me out a lot. It was like an ice breaker. I beat a guy off the boards and then buried a shot. It came in the third quarter and I scored again later. I think I really showed [Healey] something coming off the bench like that."

Riedlbauer has scored in every game since and now has seven goals and six assists for the Bays (6-0), who will play the Jersey Dragons tonight at Du Burns Arena.

Healey said it was a matter of Riedlbauer getting his feet wet.

"Eric's a local player who played a lot of club ball in Baltimore. He's a big, strong player who at times could dominate local play and I was interested to see how he'd react to the higher level," he said.

"He was playing well at the start, but wasn't scoring. Then he started trying too hard and pressing instead of letting the game come to him.

"Once he got a goal or two, he began relaxing and playing how we knew he could," Healy said. "He still has some growing to do, but I see him getting more and more confident with every game."

The 23-year-old midfielder led Calvert Hall to two straight undefeated Maryland Scholastic Association championships in the late 1980s. Afterward, he played on some of the area's top club teams, including one coached by Healey.

When Healey asked him to try out

for the Bays, Riedlbauer was just hoping to win a spot on the roster. After excelling on the third line, he got an opportunity to start on the first line when Derrick Marcano went down with an injury. He responded with a two-goal, three-assist effort last week against Toledo.

"My first goal was just making the team, and then I was looking to get more and more playing time. Now it's keeping the starting role," he said.

Riedlbauer began playing soccer at age 7 and grew up watching Billy Ronson and Scott Manning of the Blast. To now call them teammates and be able to play professionally in front of the hometown crowd is a dream come true.

"You dream of getting to play with these guys and now actually stepping on the field with them is a great feeling," he said.

"I wouldn't want to play any other place. It's great to be able to play in front of family and friends, they're at every game and have given me a lot of support."

BAYS TONIGHT

Opponent: Jersey Dragons

Site: Du Burns Arena

Time: 8:05

Radio: WITH (1230 AM)

Tickets: Some still available

Outlook: The Bays improved to 6-0 with a 20-1 victory against overmatched Toledo last Friday. Bays coach Kevin Healey is expecting a tougher time tonight against Jersey. Veteran M Billy Ronson leads the U.S. Interregional Soccer League with 20 assists. M Joe Layfield is third in the league with 15 goals. Baltimore is one game in front of the Richmond Kickers (5-1) in the Northern Division. The 6-0 Atlanta Magic, first in the Southeast Division, is the only other undefeated team in the league. The Bays have scored 100 goals and given up 20 -- the best ratio in the league.

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