Goalie Westcoat up to 2nd-half challenge Severna Park product follows Nogueira's lead

February 10, 1997|By Glenn P. Graham | Glenn P. Graham,SUN STAFF

Kansas City Attack goalkeeper Warren Westcoat had to be thinking about what a tough act he had to follow as he entered the second half of the National Professional Soccer League All-Star Game at the Baltimore Arena yesterday afternoon.

A Severna Park High grad, he was replacing Victor Nogueira, who had started for the National team and had allowed only two of the American squad's 16 first-half shots to get past him.

Also to be considered was the big Arena crowd of 8,317 -- including many family members and friends -- who, like almost everyone else in attendance, came expecting to see what almost every All-Star Game provides -- offense.

And there was the matter of coming into the game cold and trying to shut down an offensive collection from the American side that included the league's top four scorers.

Mission accomplished.

Almost every time the American team, coached by the Spirit's Mike Stankovic, tried to rally from its eight-point first-half deficit, Westcoat had an answer, picking up where Nogueira left off. It was the goalies' turn to shine in the National's 20-14 win.

"Growing up in the area watching the Baltimore Blast, it was exciting being a part of this weekend. It was just a great pleasure," said Westcoat, who was making his second All-Star appearance.

"It's tough playing goalie to begin with, and then you watch all those great players in the first half. I just tried to help keep the lead and we got some good team defense with everyone getting back behind the ball."

It was Nogueira who set the tone early with point-blank saves against Hector Marinaro and Franklin McIntosh as the American side started with a flurry. Nogueira finished the first quarter with seven saves, most coming in the first 10 minutes of play.

"It was important we did well at first," said Nogueira, a Milwaukee Wave standout. "We knew they'd come out hard, try to get a lead and hold on with all the talent they had. The first five or 10 minutes, they were on the attack."

The National's offense caught up with Nogueira's play in the second quarter, providing a 12-4 lead at the half.

Enter Westcoat, who was tested immediately, turning aside a Marinaro shot from the right side a minute into the third quarter.

"You always want to get that first save early on so you can get comfortable," Westcoat said. "That first one was my biggest, just to get it out of the way."

Westcoat finished with six more saves -- including a diving stop to his right on a bicycle-kick shot from Mark Pulisic with 5: 35 remaining in the game and the lead at 16-10.

"Victor was the key in the first quarter with a couple of point-blank saves to keep us in," said National player-coach Daryl Doran of the St. Louis Ambush.

"Then Warren came in and made some big saves, also. I feel sorry for those goalies who have to come in at halftime. That's tough."

Pub Date: 2/10/97

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