AMSTERDAM — Despite playing just three matches on the campaign, Evian netminder Quentin Westberg says he progressed and is hoping for more time between the posts next season.
Having worked their promotion and Ligue 2 title clinchers last spring, the 26-year-old began this French season as the man between the pipes for the upstarts. A gaffe in their opening draw at Brest, Westberg's first top flight game since 2006, started his descent on the depth chart.
Though Westberg rallied with three saves and six cross interceptions in a 1-0 home victory over southeast rivals Nice the following week, Evian were already in the act of acquiring Brøndby's Danish keeper Stephan Andersen. He says the demotion didn't make his season into a loss, even though he had but one Coupe de la Ligue game the rest of the way.
"I felt I progressed in dealing with special games," Westberg told MLSsoccer.com. "I learned a lot from playing the first two of the season.
"I started in the club's first ever game in Ligue 1 and the week later in its first ever win. There was a lot of pressure surrounding us, a lot of expectations and questions we asked ourselves, whether we had the level or not. And after two games, we had four points in the table, which put the club on the right track."
With Evian assured of no worse than a 10th place finish ahead of Sunday's closing day visit from Brest, Westberg's contract has been extended until next summer by a Ligue 1 survival clause.
Come fall, he will again take aim at the job held by Andersen, with the Dane making a few high profile mistakes himself this season. For now, Westberg is celebrating a successful team campaign that was far better than a typical premiere season in the honor division.
"It's really great for the club," Westberg said. "Nobody really realizes the great season we had finishing in the first part of the table, maybe in front of Marseille and really not being threatened by relegation. It's really comforting for a club whose only goal was to stay in Ligue 1 to have that confidence and put doubt aside to keep moving forward."