Goalkeeper Reb Beatty, last year's boys soccer Metro Player of the Year, is now at Loyola College. Brian Wright and Sean McMullen have taken their skills to Mount St. Mary's.
In all, 10 seniors started on the rain-soaked artificial turf at UMBC Stadium last November when the Archbishop Spalding Cavaliers came within a goal of the school's first Maryland Interscholastic Athletic Association A Conference championship.
This fall, surrounded by a fresh nucleus of soccer talent, there is one surviving starter from 1997, senior striker Bryan Madej.
"It's a learning experience for me," said Madej, who scored 12 goals and assisted on four others as a junior. "I learned a lot last year from guys like Reb and Brian Wright and always looked to them. Now it's my turn to try to resemble what they provided on and off the field."
Providing leadership for a young team with only four seniors is only the start of what Madej will be finding new this season.
Plenty of extra attention will come his way from defenses geared toward shutting down the one Cavaliers player who has shown he can score regularly at the varsity level.
Spalding coach Rick Carlson is preaching one thing to his standout finisher: Patience.
"He has to pick his moments," said Carlson. "He wants to be the man -- the goal scorer -- and he puts a lot of pressure on himself. He has to learn to take charge without trying to do everything all by himself. It's a learning thing and will only make him a better player."
Madej is working on pacing himself better over a 40-minute half, making the most of his runs, and laying the ball off to create space for himself and his teammates.
A good player makes the players around him that much better, as well.
While the Cavaliers will look to Madej as their target up front, it will be important for him to recognize the double teams and support his teammates.
Senior Pat Blair, who saw some varsity time off the bench last season, has proven a complement to Madej up front so far, scoring three goals in helping the Cavaliers get off to a 2-1 start.
Madej likes what he's seen so far.
"We're looking to be competitive and want to get off to a good start," he said. "The [MIAA A Conference] is balanced, and some other teams lost a lot also. As long as we work hard, we should be fine."
Madej hopes to see a lot of his hard work come inside the penalty area, where he is clearly at is best. He doesn't need a lot of time or room to find the net.
"Bryan's a very physical player. I don't coach a player in the box, that's where they need to rely on their instincts. He's a bull in there and also has the quickness and balance to beat three people," said Carlson.
"He strikes the ball very well, and when it's coming at you, it's hard to react to," the coach continued. "He's a presence and keeps you in the game, because there's always a chance he can make something happen."
Madej started playing soccer when he was 4 and confesses he didn't like the game much at first, maybe because he started out playing defense.
He didn't find his soccer-field home until he was 12, when his coach moved him up front. He's been scoring ever since.
"Mr. Carlson gives me the freedom in the box to do my thing. Once I'm inside the 18, I let loose and feel I can beat anyone. You have to have a nose for the goal," said Madej.
Pub Date: 9/13/98