Wildecats' playmaker steps up as senior Boys soccer: Wilde Lake's David Briefel has emerged as a scorer, in addition to field leader. Plus, he's bigger, all of which is apt to make some college coach happy.

November 03, 1996|By Rick Belz | Rick Belz,SUN STAFF

As players mature their roles sometimes change. Wilde Lake's David Briefel always thought he was a playmaker -- setting up other people to score.

The senior, playing his fourth varsity season, and disappointed about losing twice in state championship games, suddenly finds himself as Wilde Lake's chief scorer. He has 14 goals and seven assists and sometimes plays striker instead of his customary central midfield postion.

"I've always scored, but thinking of myself as a scorer is new," said Briefel, who as a junior scored 10 goals from midfield. Wilde Lake has won four straight games, and Briefel has scored in them all, including two goals in a 3-1 Class 2A South Region semifinal victory Friday over Central. The Wildecats are three games away from a state Class 2A title.

Wilde Lake coach Dave Nesbitt said: "I tried to get him to be more assertive. He was too content to let others play their game and assist them."

Another change for the 135-pound Briefel is his newly found talent in the air.

"Usually people don't think of me as good in the air. Size was always a problem for me. I'd get pushed off the ball. But I'm catching up size-wise the last two years. I'm 5-foot-11 now, and I've been in the weight room a lot."

Briefel scored on headers against both playoff opponents, Glenelg and Central.

"Technically, he's as good as anyone in the county," Nesbitt said. "The last half of this season, he has stayed focused and combined leadership and scoring. He's stepped up, big-time."

Adds the coach: "He's a Division I caliber player who will make some coach very happy, but he needs someone who will appreciate his thoughtful, technical style. He doesn't fit the typical American mold of someone who runs around 100 mph.

"He sees a lot and plays off other players. He's very knowledgeable and has a passion and love for the game. He's always watching soccer tapes. He makes things look easy, so even though he's working hard, he doesn't appear to be working hard."

Briefel cites a 1-0 loss to defending state champion Centennial in the opening league game as a personal turn-around point.

"Coach wanted someone to step up in that game, and afterward I realized I wasn't producing enough."

Wilde Lake (9-4-1) has won eight of 10 games since.

Briefel said the return of suspended striker Saah Solee nine games ago has taken some pressure off him.

"They can't mark me as tightly as teams did early in the season," he explained. "They have to pay attention to Saah because of his speed and scoring ability. And I've been getting assists from all over -- Saah, Nick Wexler, Matt Shapiro, Chris Matheson."

Briefel attended the famous Tauichi Soccer Academy in Bolivia for a 1 1/2 months three summers ago. He has taken two playing trips to England and attended the World Cup finals in Italy in 1990.

"Those experiences [exposed] him to other cultures and let him see that many people view soccer as a way out of poverty. That's why they are so passionate about it," Nesbitt said.

Briefel also worked with Nesbitt five weeks last summer, teaching four classes of soccer every morning to Baltimore kids at Morgan State University. It was an NCAA-sponsored program.

"Here's a Columbia kid who has traveled the world, teaching soccer to kids who think that a soccer ball is a volleyball," Nesbitt said.

Briefel has played at a regional Olympic Development Program level and still plays at the state ODP level. His club team, the Top Guns from Anne Arundel County, won a regional title in 1995. He grew up playing for Columbia United before switching two years ago. United won a national championship last summer.

"It looked like I wasn't going anywhere on the United, and after I switched, I got my confidence back, so it was an important move for me."

Pub Date: 11/03/96

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