xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

Longtime Blast star Pat Healey retires after eight seasons

Pat Healey, left, scored a goal in the second quarter to help lift the Blast to a 4-3 victory over the Syracuse Silver Knights on March 13 to advance to the MASL semifinals.
Pat Healey, left, scored a goal in the second quarter to help lift the Blast to a 4-3 victory over the Syracuse Silver Knights on March 13 to advance to the MASL semifinals. (David Rippeto)

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

Advertisement

The thrilling 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 consistently fine 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."

Advertisement
Advertisement

Healey, 30, stepped down after accepting a teaching job at Perry Hall Christian School, where he also will coach in the boys and girls soccer programs. The Bel Air native, who played at Calvert Hall and then 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."

Healey leaves soccer with an "iron man" resume. Throughout his playing days — starting at the youth club level with the Baltimore Bays — he never missed a game for any reason. 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.

Advertisement

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 all the action, Pat Healey liked to sit higher so he could see the plays completely 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 and he built quite a following for himself and the team."

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."

twitter.com/GlennGrahamSun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement