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Noonan a can't miss kid

FOXBOROUGH -- Yes, he's a rookie. But Pat Noonan, who is playing his first year of professional soccer with the New England Revolution, sure doesn't play like one. His goal in yesterday's 1-1 tie helped the Revolution eliminate the MetroStars in their two-leg, total-goals series.

Noonan is second on the team with 12 MLS goals. Taylor Twellman, who is out for the season with a broken left foot, leads the team with 15.

So forget about rookie jitters. Bright lights and big cities don't seem to intimidate Noonan, who is from Ballwin, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis. He has scored in both of the Revolution's playoff games against the MetroStars. Nine of his 12 goals have come against the MetroStars, including a hat trick in the season finale.

But Noonan didn't feel like bragging after yesterday's 1-1 tie, which eliminated the MetroStars on aggregate, 3-1.

"They're a tough team, but we've had good results against them," he said.

The Revolution have a 4-0-2 record against the MetroStars, and Noonan has scored every time the teams have met in MLS play this season. When he scored his team's third goal in the 3-3 draw July 12, it was his first MLS goal.

A few months later, he clearly has their number.

His goal yesterday came in the 28th minute from just inside the box after a feed from Jose Cancela.

"Well, I've been playing a lot more at the end of the year," he said. "But I'd like to think that I'd have done that against other teams, but who knows?"

This is no the 23-year-old's first taste of postseason play. Noonan's Indiana team reached the College Cup three times and won the national title in 1999, his freshman year.

"I've had some great players with some good teams and good players," he said.

Noonan is on the winning track again, as the Revolution are unbeaten in their last nine games. Though their success is due in large part to Noonan's play, he doesn't want the spotlight.

"This is a great atmosphere with great guys, and we're winning, so that helps." he said.

Noonan has been named MLS Player of the Week twice, and was named Player of the Month in October. He became the first rookie to win that honor, and joined Twellman and Walter Zenga as the only Revolution players to win it.

The 6-footer said he might have been aware of his rookie status when he joined the team, but hasn't felt it lately.

"I have confidence out there, and I don't think I'm playing like a rookie, and the guys have confidence," he said. "And you kind of forget about it when you're out there. Once you're on the field, you just forget about it and go."

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