Junior goalie leads soccer to Playoffs

By Jack Davis

In the waning moments of a crucial league game against division rival Notre Dame, with a win seemingly in hand, goalie Alex Silverman ’10 begins to relax until the unthinkable happens.

The Wolverines’ vaunted defense momentarily breaks down, and a Notre Dame forward capitalizes on the rare miscue to break away alone towards the goal.

 Silverman knows as the goalie, he is the last line of defense. Even though the breakdown is not his fault, as goalie he is ultimately held accountable for everything that slips by him into the back of the net.

And Silverman knows he can’t screw up here. The Wolverines are clutching to a 1-0 lead, and, if he can just make this one save, the Wolverines will secure another league win,

helping them that much more in the all important race for playoff seeding.

 So Silverman stays calm, sets his feet, and focuses. And then he does what he has done all year: make the save.

Silverman clutches the ball for an extra second, knowing that save has just ensured victory, before finally relinquishing his treasure to a Harvard-Westlake defender. After the game, which was Silverman’s third straight shutout, and fifth shutout in his last six contests, he heads to the showers, while his teammates and coaches sing his praises.

“We wouldn’t be where we are without Alex,” forward Sebastian Li ’10 said. “He keeps us together and he is one of the best players out there on the field every time we play.”

“He gives us confidence from the back,” Head Coach Freddy Arroyo said. “He makes the big saves when we need him to and he keeps us in the game.”

Silverman sees leadership as part of the obligations that come with being goalie.

“As a goalie you have to be a leader,” Silverman said. “I feel like all the best goalies I’ve ever seen were leaders for their team. As goalie, I’m the only person that can see the whole field so I have to be sort of a coach out there and help give direction to my teammates.”

Silverman started playing soccer seriously at the age of nine, taking a more unconventional route in choosing soccer over more popular sports like football, basketball, or baseball, and choosing to be goalie, the most isolated position in the field.

“I was drawn to soccer at a young age because I’ve just always enjoyed the beauty of the game,” Silverman said. “I love the technique, the complexities of the game, the athleticism required to play and the shape you have to keep yourself in. I’ve always just felt at home out there on the field.”

Silverman began his soccer career by playing AYSO, before eventually becoming more serious and joining local club and all-star teams. Around the age of 12, Silverman began training with a goalie coach to improve his technique, footwork, and instincts.

 For Silverman, soccer is a year-round sport, with training and playing for Harvard-Westlake taking up his fall and winter, and club soccer taking up his spring and summer. All in all, Silverman estimates he spends about 10 hours a week most every week of the year playing soccer.

Silverman credits most of his success and this  year’s success as a team to a generally improved chemistry with his teammates’.

“This year more than ever we have experimented with a lot of different lineups,” Silverman said. “We started out the year really struggling but eventually we settled into a good group and got really comfortable out there on the field and it really shows. For all the shutouts I’ve had this year, the praise shouldn’t only belong to me, it really should go all around the team. In plenty of those games I didn’t’ really have anything come my way because our defense totally shut them down.”

Silverman has high hopes for how deep the team can go into this years’ CIF Playoffs.

“I feel like with the soccer program, people tend to look at our success from years past and since we don’t have that many seniors people just talk about our potential, but we really have a talented team. When we play hard, work together, stay focused, and hold our own we are really difficult to beat.”

As for his own career, Silverman forsees himself always playing soccer, regardless of whether he is able to continue playing at the college level.

“Obviously I would love to be able to play college-level soccer, but for me playing in college isn’t the reason I play soccer. I love soccer and have so much fun playing, so I don’t ever see myself not playing. As long as I’m playing, it doesn’t matter if I’m playing in college or just playing recreationally.”