Booters rely on new front line

Rick Weber
Date Published: 
Daily Collegian

Penn State soccer coach Walt Bahr has found a successful front line combination -- and he isn't about to change it.

Bahr moved Jim Stamatis to central striker and inserted speedy freshman Ray Patrick at wing opposite Rich Reice in an effort to get more punch in the lineup.

The results were devastating. The Lions whipped a strong Maryland squad, 5-0, Friday night, and subdued East Stroudsburg, 2-0, Tuesday afternoon.

Bahr doesn't plan to make any changes in the lineup for tonight's traditional clash with Navy at Jeffrey Field.

"We'll keep the same setup," Bahr said. "I definitely won't change what has been successful. We've moved the ball well and created some good scoring opportunities."

Stamatis has no complaints about the front-line switch.

"If it keeps working the way it has been, I can't dispute it," he said. "I think it's gonna work. It's difficult for anyone to cover two fast wingers. I can't see any team containing us now.

"Before, we either had Bob Ehrlich on one wing and me in the middle or Ken McDonald in the middle and me on one wing. Coach Bahr wanted to get Ray, who is a typical right winger, into that spot. He did it mostly because of the speed we can get with it."

Patrick, who began the season as one of the first players off the bench, has been gradually worked into a starting position.

"I thought before the season that Ray had the ability to help us," Stamatis said. "It was just a matter of time for him to get accustomed to the players and the system."

Meanwhile, as Patrick, Stamatis, Reice and Co. have controlled the ball, the Lion defense has been doing its job--that is, keeping opponents from scoring. The Lions have recorded three consecutive shutouts and have given up just five goals in 10 games.

"We've been playing well defensively," Bahr said. "We're really working and putting pressure on the opposing forwards.

"We've been good, but we've also been a little lucky. There have been enough balls around the goal that a number of things could have happened. But Dan Gallagher made a couple of great saves."

Gallagher will undoubtedly be called upon to make a few saves tonight against Navy (5-3), which is coming off a big 2-0 win over Penn.

The Midshipmen are led by Scott Eckert, who has tallied six goals and two assists for the team scoring lead. Eckert scored the winning goal against the Lions last year in a physical, hot-tempered game at Annapolis, Md.

Bahr expects the same type of game this year.

"It will be a hard, physical game," he said. "The service academies prepare for war and I think it carries onto the field."

CORNER KICKS: Penn State, 8-2, is ranked eighth in the country and first in the region, ahead of Philadelphia Textile, Princeton and Haverford . . . Gallagher has tied his own record for shutouts in a season, a record he shares with two other Lions. Gallagher has recorded 53 saves and has given up only five goals . . . Reice leads the team in scoring with 15 points (nine goals, six assists).