Beatty's net work leaves blank look on foes' faces

Loyola College: Sometimes, Reb Beatty's teammates can't figure him out. But the goalkeeper's ability to stop shots leaves the opposition even more perplexed.

October 17, 2001|By Jeff Zrebiec | By Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

Loyola junior goalkeeper Reb Beatty admits he becomes a different person when he steps onto the soccer field.

"Off the field, a lot of people are surprised by my demeanor, because I can be very reserved," Beatty said. "But, on the field, I have always been the same way: very loud, very vocal and very into the game."

Mark Mettrick, the second-year coach of the Greyhounds, has a different take on it. "In terms of personality, some of our guys think he is a little mad at times, but that's OK," Mettrick said. "We are learning to understand his personality."

Opponents, on the other hand, have had little success in figuring out how to score on Beatty. With eight shutouts this year and 27 for his career, the Archbishop Spalding alum is on pace to challenge the program's all-time mark, held by Shawn Boehmcke, who registered 42 shutouts from 1989 through 1992.

The two-time Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Goalkeeper of the Year has given up just 31 goals in 49 career games, and has compiled a 34-11-4 record.

Beatty's play has been a major factor in Loyola's rise in the national rankings. After conference wins over Niagara and Canisius during the weekend and with a resume that includes victories over ranked Maryland and Fairfield teams, the Greyhounds are enjoying one of their finest seasons.

Ranked 11th in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll heading into today's match at No. 17 Princeton, Loyola (10-1-1, 6-0 MAAC) has won 10 straight games, the program's longest winning streak since the 1987 season.

"I always envisioned the success we are having, but ultimately, while we have done some good things, we haven't reached our goals yet, and we have to keep working toward those," said Beatty, an Annapolis native.

The concept of working hard to reach a goal is not foreign to Beatty. "I've never seen a goalkeeper in such good cardiovascular shape," Mettrick said. "When we do fitness testing, he outruns our field players. That's very rare for a goalkeeper."

Beatty has won the team's annual preseason fitness run three straight years, calling himself an "ultra-competitive person, who would feel insulted if he lost."

Senior midfielder A.J. Ogilvie said that Beatty's competitive fire does not flicker on the practice field.

"He is so hard to score on, because he wants to stop every shot," Ogilvie said. "He is so competitive, but that's what it takes to be at that level. As much skill as it takes to be a good goalie, he also puts in the time."

Freshman goalie Greg Peters has accepted the role of Beatty's understudy. "If I have to learn from anyone, I'd rather learn from the best," said Peters, an All-Metro pick last year at Mount Hebron. "I try to mimic everything he does on and off the field."

Beatty has what coaches believe is the total package for a goalkeeper. His 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame allows him to pick off crosses and control balls in the air, while his quickness and athletic ability take care of the rest.

"I wouldn't want to be any taller, because I think I'd lose a lot of agility and the ability to get low," he said. "But at the same time, if I was any shorter, you are going to have trouble with high balls and crosses."

Beatty, who turned 21 yesterday, says his decision to redshirt the 1998 season helped him grow as an athlete and as a person.

"To say it was purely a soccer decision would be mistaken," Beatty said. "It was more of my mental approach to college. I really was questioning whether I wanted to be at college at all, and I think that was pretty apparent in my attitude and approach during preseason."

Beatty used the extra year to concentrate on his academics, and is now on pace to graduate in December, a semester early.

Next semester, the history major and business administration minor will enroll in graduate school. He plans on playing out his Loyola eligibility next fall.

"I don't want to look too far ahead, because I am enjoying what we are doing now," said Beatty, who did mention that playing professionally is a goal. "Right now, I need to concentrate on graduating in December, and having a great season."

The Greyhounds are on track to make their first NCAA tournament appearance since 1993. They can qualify either by winning the MAAC tournament, held the first weekend in November, or by getting an at-large bid.

About a month and a half ago, the tournament was the furthest thing from the Greyhounds' minds as they opened their season at the Cal State Fullerton tournament with a 4-0 loss to California and a 2-2 tie with the host Titans.

"I gave up nine goals all of last year, and we gave up six in the first two games. I have never seen us play so bad," Beatty said. "That was the first time I honestly felt embarrassed to wear the Loyola jersey. But, we did realize we had a lot of work to do, and ever since then, we've been solid."

Solid enough, where Beatty has set new goals for his team. "Our goal this year is the NCAA tournament, but I don't want to stop there. I think if we play well, we can beat anyone in the nation.

"It's a pretty lofty statement, but I really believe it is true."

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