WESTIELD, NJ — Blue Devils Boys Varsity Soccer Goalie Cullen Birkel made eight saves Saturday in a game that ended with a shutout victory against rival Scotch Plains-Fanwood — one of the many reasons the Westfield High School junior is this week’s Ron Bansky and Associates Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week.

“This is Cullen's first year playing on varsity, though last year he trained with varsity and played all of the JV games,” head coach Eric Shaw said. “We knew there was a possibility of him competing for the starting role this year. We wanted him to be challenged on a daily basis. I think this has allowed him to feel more comfortable with the speed of play early on in the season.”

As a goalkeeper, Birkel sees the whole field and is expected  to act as a leader, directing teammates as to what needs to be done, Shaw explained.

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“His size is a huge asset. Being tall allows him to get to balls some others might not,” Shaw said. “He kept us in the game against SP-F.  Early on in the game he came up with two big saves to keep it 0-0.”

If either or both had gone in, they would have been “chasing the game,” Shaw said.

The coach added, “We look forward to Cullen's growth and we keep pushing him to improve on a daily basis.”

The Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Ron Bansky & Associates Allstate Agency. Located on the South Avenue Circle in Westfield, the agency has been protecting local families and business owners for over 15 years. Call them this week at 908-301-0711 for a new auto, home or life insurance quote and if you mention the Allstate WHS Athlete of the Week they will make a $25 contribution to the Westfield Boosters Association! To learn more, visit ronbansky.com.