Blast stand­out Pat Healey re­tires af­ter eight sea­sons

De­fender leav­ing to teach at Perry Hall Chris­tian

Baltimore Sun - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL INDOOR SOCCER - By Glenn Gra­ham glenn.gra­ham@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/Glen­nGra­hamSun

The fi­nal goal, scored by team­mate Tony Donatelli to give the Blast the 2015-16 Ma­jor Arena Soc­cer League cham­pi­onship in April, is safely se­cure in Pat Healey’s mind.

Ev­ery de­tail that went with it — his brief talk as team cap­tain with the Blast go­ing into over­time on the power play, Donatelli’s strike and ev­ery­body’s re­ac­tion af­ter­ward — is in­cluded.

The 14-13 win over Soles de Sonora in Mexico, which pro­duced Baltimore’s eighth pro­fes­sional in­door soc­cer cham­pi­onship, turned out to be a fit­ting end­ing to a stand­out ca­reer for Healey, who an­nounced his re­tire­ment Thurs­day af­ter eight sea­sons with the home­town team he grew up cheer­ing for.

“It was a child­hood dream to not only play pro­fes­sional soc­cer and do what you love to do, but in your own town in front of peo­ple that you grew up with and also watched play,” he said. “Be­fore I came, they were win­ning and I wanted to con­tinue do­ing that. All I wanted to do is to help the team keep get­ting there. That’s what I’m most proud of — I played eight years and we were in the cham­pi­onship seven times.”

Healey, 30, stepped down af­ter ac­cept­ing a teach­ing job at Perry Hall Chris­tian School, where he also will help coach the boys and girls soc­cer pro­grams. The Bel Air na­tive, who played at Calvert Hall and Tow­son Uni­ver­sity, leaves the game on top af­ter be­ing named MASL De­fender of the Year for a sec­ond straight sea­son. He started with the Blast in the now-de­funct Na­tional In­door Soc­cer League in the 2008-09 sea­son and was named its Rookie of the Year, help­ing the team win the first of three cham­pi­onships dur­ing his ca­reer.

“Pat epit­o­mized ev­ery­thing of what the Baltimore Blast is all about both on the field and off the field,” Blast coach Danny Kelly said. “He was a tremen­dous leader on the field and off, and he had a tremen­dous soc­cer IQ.

“His ca­reer was a tremen­dous one here in Baltimore, and I’m thrilled he was able to end it with a cham­pi­onship in Mexico and him be­ing so in­stru­men­tal in win­ning that cham­pi­onship through the reg­u­lar sea­son and play­offs. These types of play­ers don’t come around very of­ten.”

Through­out his play­ing days — start­ing From left, Blast play­ers Pat Healey, Mike Deasel and Jonatas Melo cel­e­brate a win against the Lancers. at the youth club level with the Baltimore Bays — Healey never missed a game. He was a four-year var­sity player at Calvert Hall and Tow­son, and played in 198 con­sec­u­tive reg­u­lar-sea­son and play­off games for the Blast.

He took pride in his prepa­ra­tion, and his love and un­der­stand­ing of the game emerged as a young­ster when his fa­ther, Kevin, the Blast’s pres­i­dent and gen­eral man­ager, would take him to watch the then-Baltimore Spirit. In­stead of sit­ting in the lower level closer to the ac­tion, Pat Healey liked to sit higher so he could see the plays de­velop.

“The time and en­ergy he put into un­der­stand­ing the game and un­der­stand­ing our op­po­nent and trans­lat­ing that into not only his good per­for­mances but the team’s per­for­mance was un­prece­dented,” Kevin Healey said. “Off the field, he was our leader, too. He was out in the com­mu­nity at all times, he un­der­stood the busi­ness and he un­der­stands what a player’s role is.”

As a fa­ther, Kevin Healey couldn’t be prouder with his son cap­ping a fine ca­reer. As a gen­eral man­ager, he loses a player dif­fi­cult to re­place. In ad­di­tion to be­ing the team’s vo­cal leader and smartest player, Pat Healey ran the power play, was a key com­po­nent on man-down sit­u­a­tions and was the team’s sixth at­tacker.

“He’s def­i­nitely the player who can’t be re­placed be­cause he knows the game bet­ter than ev­ery­body else in the league, so that’s def­i­nitely a tough loss for us,” Blast goal­keeper and fel­low cap­tain Wil­liam Vanzela said. “I feel like we’re los­ing a great leader. He’s a guy that makes a lot of good plays on the field, doesn’t make a lot of mis­takes and not hav­ing him is def­i­nitely go­ing to hurt us.”

KARL MER­TON FERRON/BALTIMORE SUN

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