New attack works for unselfish West Strategy shift: Centennial's all-time soccer scorer, Brian West, is enjoying game more.

October 29, 1995|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

Relaxed. That's the best way to describe Brian West's play this season compared to last.

And because of it, his seasonal scoring figures are the best they've ever been.

That's saying something, because West is a four-year starter and two-time All-Metro first-teamer who is Centennial's career scoring leader with 42 goals and 39 assists.

West, a 5-foot-9 1/2 , 160-pound senior striker, has 11 goals and 14 assists as Centennial heads into a regional playoff game against Mount Hebron Tuesday.

He had nine goals and three assists as a freshman, 15 and seven as a sophomore and seven and 15 last season. He has scored a goal or an assist in all but three games this season, including both goals in a tough 2-0 win against Bel Air.

Early-season injuries to West and several other players were responsible for a slow team start last season -- ties in two of the first three games. But the team eventually recovered to capture Centennial's third state title in four years by winning 14 straight games.

"I was injured and just wasn't comfortable, and the team didn't roll like it is this season," West said. "I'm a lot more relaxed."

Centennial is 12-0, county champ for the fifth straight season and owner of a 26-game winning streak. The Eagles have 10 shutouts and have allowed three goals while scoring 43.

West thinks another reason he is so relaxed is the different style that the Eagles are playing.

"In the past we'd by-pass the midfield and kick to me and Matt [Stephenson]," he said.

That often meant West had to go to the goal even though he was being marked and defenses were set up to stop him.

"Now we are working through the midfield and that takes pressure off Matt and me and allows others to score," he said.

Midfielders Matt Laycock and Cory Piette have become major scorers along with West and Stephenson. And for a change, most of Centennial's goals are coming from the field -- not from dead-ball situations.

"He [West] doesn't have to take on players like he did his freshman year," Centennial coach Bill Stara said. "He has a lot more quality players around him now, and he feels comfortable with them and has adapted to them and to how teams play him."

West is one away from his best seasonal assist mark (15). He has passed up numerous scoring chances, looking for teammates and setting them up.

He has been so unselfish that with the playoffs coming up Stara has had to tell him to start going to goal more often.

"He's one of the most pure strikers I've had," Stara said. "No one could control him as a freshman, so it's no wonder that no one can control him this season either. We've got kids walking in on goalkeepers because he has a cluster of players around him."

West thinks that four years have brought a lot of improvements to his game.

"I'm a little faster, more confident on the ball, have better vision and my passes are more accurate," he said. "But I still have a lot to learn."

He'll do that learning at one of the top college programs in the country. He has narrowed his list to Rutgers, Virginia, Maryland, UCLA, North Carolina and Brown.

He has 1,310 on the Scholastic Assessment Test and a 3.17 grade-point average. West also plays for the top under-18 club team in the area, the Columbia Darby.

He's also a talented basketball player, and though he took last season off, he's leaning toward playing this season.

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