Any time Alex Canfield touched the ball during the IHSA Class 2A state finals, fans in green and gold roared in the stands. Gators fans understood that whenever No. 13 had the ball at his feet, he was a threat to score.
And score Canfield did.
He led the state champs with 31 goals. He scored 10 times in seven postseason games. His hat trick against Fenton in the supersectional propelled the Gators to their first trip to state.
He scored a goal and had one assist in the state title game, which South won in a shootout.
The postseason accolades keep pouring in: All-Conference in the Fox Valley Conference, Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association All-State, Allstate All-American. Canfield can add one more to the list: 2018 Northwest Herald Boys Soccer Player of the Year.
Canfield recently spoke with the Northwest Herald about the state title, living in Germany and more.
Was there a regular season game when you realized how good your team could be?
Canfield: When we beat Streamwood [on Aug. 23], it was a mind-changing thing. We had lost to Streamwood the previous year. Being that they’re an outstanding team, pulling out a 1-0 victory was uplifting for our whole team.
How did you stay calm during the shootouts at state?
Canfield: I thought about it as we had always been practicing [shootouts] for those specific reasons. Every time, we practice them the exact same. We wouldn’t shoot different spots. Always the exact same. Walking up to penalty kicks was almost like practice. It was just another shot. Take a deep breath and hit it like you normally do.
Were there any funny moments during the state run or moments when you said, “This is wild?”
Canfield: One of our teammates, Justin Washington, is normally one of the players that is a part of our “bench mob.” In the supersectional game, we were playing super well, and he actually got some minutes as a striker up top. I thought that was amazing. We were winning by so much he got the opportunity to play in such a huge game. I’m sure that meant a lot to him.
Who is your funniest teammate?
Canfield: I’m going to list off three because when they’re together, they’re extremely funny. Sabien Raymond, Ricky Cristante and Nick Langdon.
How did you get into soccer?
Canfield: When I was really young because I lived in Dusseldorf, Germany. It’s just a really popular thing there. It was almost normal to play soccer. I’d always played with my brother and his friends in the backyard.
How long did you live in Germany?
Canfield: Almost six years. From when I was 1 until 7.
How did you guys end up there?
Canfield: We ended up there because of a business trip that my dad had to do for his work. Originally, it was supposed to be two to three years, but they ended up extending it to five and a half.
Who is your biggest hero?
Canfield: My brother [Jake Canfield, 21] because he’s someone I’ve always looked up to, and he got me into soccer to begin with. He’s an outstanding student attending college at Michigan State. He really led me in the right path.
Do you have any hidden talents?
Canfield: Flips. I can do a back flip, front flip. Whenever I’m in the pool, off the diving board I can do a bunch of tricks.
What are three of your favorite movies?
Canfield: “21 Jump Street.” Any of the “Spider-Man” [movies]. “Deadpool 2.”
What’s your favorite subject in school?
Canfield: German. I have the most fun in that class.
How well do you speak German, having lived there?
Canfield: I used to be fluent when I lived there. When I moved back to America, my parents tried to keep speaking German with me so I wouldn’t forget it. But I was so young that I was like, “We’re in America now. We don’t speak German here.”
Was it easier to pick it back up?
Canfield: I definitely would say so. At times, when we’re learning things in German [class], I always think back, I’m like, “I feel like I’ve heard that before.”