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's also in his second season in the U.S. Soccer Federation's developmental national-team pool for his age group.

David Buehler, a fellow 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."

As respected as he is for his agility, Webster can become 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. "He hurt a couple of my boys in last year's games, and they were kind of afraid of him. He's a terrific player, and if it weren't for his presence, the score would have been much different."

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."

Webster's top choices include Virginia, Clemson and Wake Forest of the powerful Atlantic Coast Conference. Among many others he's considering are Boston, South Carolina and James Madison universities.

Webster is "holding his own" with a 2.5 average in a difficult course load that includes pre-calculus, English (a special study of the Bible) and Psychology.

"I always tell him that he's got to pick in a college the place that's going to be a good fit, yet a challenge," said Seal, who teaches the Psychology course and is also McDonogh's assistant dean of students.

"I feel like the top schools that he's looking at, even if he weren't to play soccer -- which he will -- would be a great match for him because he's just an all-around great person."

Pub Date: 9/15/96

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