Sweeping his way toward new goals Soccer: McDonogh's Pablo Webster, skilled enough to control a high-school game now, thinks about improved play and the right college.

September 15, 1996|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,SUN STAFF

Next to playing sweeper, McDonogh's Pablo Webster ranks reading a good murder mystery high on his list of pastimes.

"I like the sleuths, how clever they are in sizing up all the evidence, picking up every detail on the way to solving the crime," said Webster, 16, who often finds novels so intriguing that he'll stay up "late into the night, reading.

"It's like with soccer, solving offenses and defenses. You've always got to stay one step ahead of your enemy. Sometimes, you even have to use the element of surprise."

Webster (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) has spent years honing his mental and physical skills on the pitch, having started playing soccer when he was 4. So great is his prowess that this past summer, he played on a Columbia City United squad that won the under-17 national title in the Youth Soccer National Championships. He is in his second season in the U.S. Soccer Federation's developmental national-team pool for his age group.

David Buehler, a Columbia native and a co-captain with Webster for No. 3 McDonogh, has played beside him since they were "6 or 7."

"He's always been constant. Solid. And he can just do so many things," said Buehler, an All-City/County first-teamer who led last year's team with nine goals and five assists. "He can be a threat offensively, coming forward. Or, on throw-ins, he can put the ball on the back stick [far post]. He's quick, and his direct kicks are killers."

Last year, Webster's three goals and three assists included the game's first goal in McDonogh's 2-1 semifinal loss to Gilman and the game-winner, on a direct kick, in one of McDonogh's two 1-0 victories over Calvert Hall.

Called by McDonogh coach Bill Seal "a tenacious defender who can make extraordinary scoring runs and get back on defense," Webster also scored the game-winner in last Thursday's 4-1 victory over No. 14 Loyola.

"He's so smooth, it doesn't seem like he's ever working hard. He just seems to glide back there," said Seal, whose three-year starting sweeper anchored McDonogh (2-0 league) to a season-opening 3-0 shutout of Gilman. "The kid's phenomenal. I mean, he can just control an entire game. I personally have never seen anyone get past him."

Webster can be an enforcer, too.

"Pablo's very skillful, but he's also extremely physical and really claims that back line. It's like, 'You come back here and I'll whack you,' " said Calvert Hall coach Bill Karpovich.

Webster, a resident of Columbia's Long Reach section, grew up appreciating the skills and the reputation of former Oakland Mills defender Clint Peay, who went on to help the University of Virginia win four NCAA titles, was on 1996 U.S. Olympic team, and starts professionally for Major League Soccer's D.C. United.

"My father [Phillip] is a pediatrician, and Clint Peay was one of his patients. My dad was always talking about him and how he played the same position I do," said Webster. "I'd like my career to go similarly, if possible, but mostly, I'd like to get into a good school and do well academically."

Pub Date: 9/15/96

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