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Goalie: Save comparisons to brother

Comparisons are inevitable in sports, as one player succeeds another and is gauged by their successes or failures.

Follow your older brother onto the same team, into the same position, and the scrutiny heightens.

Dan Calabrese, who replaced his now-graduated brother, Pete, as Springstead's goaltender, doesn't like to think about such dynamics.

"I don't see it as big brother-little brother," the sophomore said. "I don't think of it as me coming after him. I just play."

Calabrese is physically similar to his tall, lanky brother, who started for South Carolina-Aiken this fall.

Calabrese, with a 1.9 goals-against average for Springstead, likely will not replicate his sibling's success from last year when the Eagles allowed 1.1 goals per regular-season game. But Calabrese has managed to help run a defense that returned only Mikey Sullivan.

"I just try to do what I have to do, work with the boys in the back," Calabrese said. "I pretty much just work with them and get confidence."

Increased attention from his father and Springstead coach, Sal Calabrese, should help. The younger keeper has not received the concentrated instruction time he needs, Sal Calabrese said.

"We're going to work more over Christmas break," he said. "I haven't trained as much with him as I did my other one.

"He's not gone to camps _ Pete went to one or two _ because at the time I just didn't have the time to do it," Sal said. "I got busy with everything else and he kind of got neglected, and I really feel bad about that."

The coach doesn't think his son's season as the junior varsity starter did much to prepare him for varsity competition.

"On varsity, not only is play quicker, but the shots are firmer," Sal said. "We play against teams who have some players that can finish the ball inside the 6.

"Last year on JV, we had some kids who could hammer everybody and he got no action at all, really. The level of play, the quickness of play and the shots on frame, the services the bumps, it's a little different."

HAPPY HOLIDAYS: Last Wednesday, in its final game until Jan. 11, Springstead avenged a 3-1 loss to Pasco with a victory by the same score at home.

The hook is, the Eagles completed the reversal without their offensive leader.

Stephen Bates, who paces Springstead with 13 goals, missed the game with a bad case of the flu.

"The difference is we beat their keeper (Gilbert Montelongo)," Calabrese said.

"That first night that kid played phenomenal. We took 25 strikes on frame, and that kid literally stopped 24, and I'm talking ones that are top right-hand corner, left-hand corner, bottom post. He pulled saves of nowhere."

Bates' absence forced the Eagles to practice what Calabrese has preached: scoring balance.

Ian Hasselbarth and Daniel Flores scored their first goals of the season, and Ricky Bennett got his third.

Flores headed in his goallate in the second half to complete a great cross from Oronzo Triggiano.

STYLE POINTS: Former Springstead boys coach John Bifulco used to bemoan the general lack of tactics in local boys soccer, as opposed to the girls' game.

Calabrese agrees, and he spends a lot of his time trying to keep his players focused on the style he wants to play.

"Whack and chase," Calabrese said, describing the undisciplined style of various local teams. "Most still do it.

"But I told the boys, whoever wants to play at the next level, they don't have to see how far they can knock it. They have to maintain possession and pass it around.

"That's the next level for whatever boys want to play college, and some of them want to go on," Calabrese said.

Falling into the trap is easy. Teams that want to possess and pass can get frustrated by opponents that thump the ball the length of the field and hope one of their strikers reaches it first.

"It happens," Calabrese said. "We get a little lax, a little lax, one kid sprints onto the ball _ goal.

"You work your butt off all year to possess the ball and knock it around and play against a team that just whacks at it and it's ugly. You play well but you don't win.

"Horrible, awful. I don't like that, it bugs me."

MID-SEASON REPORT: Calabrese said he is happy with the Eagles' 6-3-2 season to this point, but he would like a bit more consistency.

"We are hot and cold," he said. "Some nights we come and play, some nights we don't.

"(In the win over Pasco) we showed a lot more communication _ something we haven't had in a while. We were moving the ball around again, just the way we need to play it.

"Now we have to defend continuously through the whole match _ everybody, including the attackers up top," he said. "They have to come back and defend. Then I think we'll be ok."