Richard Fishbein does't make rash decisions.
"I mean, playing professional soccer would be ludicrous," he says while sitting on a bench facing Rockville High's practice field. He leans forward with hands clasped, arms resting on his knees, and adds, "It's not even logical. It's unstable and the pay isn't good. I plan to have a secure job."
Over walks Larry Nuzzaci, Fishbein's coach at Rockville. Nuzzaci sits next to Fishbein. "It was down to earth and realistic," Nuzzaci says, referring to Fishbein's logic. "He's going to make a good college player."
Fishbein, all-Met last year as a junior while scoring 10 goals and assisting on seven in leading the Rams to the Class A state championship, has corresponded with representatives from West Point, William & Mary, George Mason and Brandeis about playing soccer. In a club soccer tournament last June at William & Mary, in which college coaches are given a chance to look at promising high school players, he caught the attention of some onlookers.
"West Point thought I could be an outstanding college athlete," he says. "And the William and Mary coach and I have kept in touch. I'm expecting to hear more at the end of the season."
But, the ever-logical Fishbein wants to scratch the surface. "It's hard for me to get a good perspective of how good the schools are because I haven't seen them play," he said.
At 5 feet 7 and 140 pounds, Fishbein has had to use his smarts out on the soccer field as well. He adapts to the positioning of defenders. His canny movement away from the ball leads to higher percentage shots. It's all logical, he says. "I use quick moves rather than my size. Quick cuts and simple fakes -- the whole game is deceptive moves.
"Faking one way or the other makes a whole lot of difference. Most of my goals are in the (penalty) box. I force the goalie to move one way or the other, then shoot past him. It's my outside shot that is inconsistent."
And that strategy has worked so far this season. He was ill during the Rams' opener against Good Counsel, but played anyway. Despite having a temperature of 102 degrees, he scored two goals.
The fever lowered in Rockville's second match of the season, against Richard Montgomery. And he scored three goals in the 3-2 overtime victory. If he keeps up that pace, he would score more than 20 goals this season.
Despite his team's close victories, Fishbein doesn't believe his experienced teammates are complacent as a result of having already been to the top. "I think we have the ability to win the states again, although so far we haven't used our full potential," he says.
"The good thing is that we have all played together on club teams, and we all go out partying together on the weekends. And that's nice.
"At first I didn't think the new group (of younger players) would keep up the tradition. But they have matured."
Fishbein reflects, mentioning how his parents got him involved in soccer because they feared he was too small for football. He laughs. Why, in one game last year he says he was almost knocked unconscious heading a ball.
When he was seven, he said, "My doctor, who's about 5-6, told my mom I would be about his height. She almost fainted."
Now, Fishbein says, "My mother hates it when I head a ball. She's afraid I'm going to get hurt."
Entering Rockville in the 10th grade, Fishbein thought he would make junior varsity with little trouble. He even figured varsity wasn't out of the question. As it turned out, he was hardly noticed in practice and in the first match.
"At first I thought it was just because they didn't know me," he says. "And then I started to think it was me. But I was in a slump."
The slump ended soon. He scored two goals in his first start the following match. He had another two in two more matches.
Fishbein followed through with his scoring performance in practice, when the varsity scrimmaged the junior varsity. "It just so happened I scored a few goals," he says.
From then on, it was nothing but satisfaction for Fishbein, as the Rams made the state playoffs that season and won the championship last year.
Now in his senior season, he has other rational decisions to make. He wants to major in liberal arts in college. It's what he thinks will interest him most.
"Aren't you going to be an M.D. like your dad?" Nuzzaci interrupts to ask, although knowing the answer.
"Naw, I'll be a psychologist or something," Fishbein answered.
"You're going to be a liberal arts bum or something," said Nuzzaci.