How does one follow up on 31 goals and a state championship?
Crystal Lake South’s Alex Canfield faced that question all offseason. Then he proved his junior year wasn’t a one-time thing. The Gators forward bested his season total with 34 goals in 2019 and recorded a career-high 18 assists. He set South program records for career goals (85) and career points (204).
On top of that, he was the leading scorer on a Gators team that returned to state and finished as the IHSA Class 2A state runner-up. He will graduate as one of the most decorated boys soccer players in McHenry County history.
For his accomplishments this season, Canfield has been named the 2019 Northwest Herald Boys Soccer Player of the Year. Canfield is the first Gators player to win the award in back-to-back years since Paul Lekics – whose school goals and points records Canfield bested this year – did so in 1990 and 1991.
Jacobs’ Noah Melick was the last player to win the award in consecutive years, winning in 2016 and 2017. Before Melick and Canfield, no boys soccer player had won the award in back-to-back season in more than 15 years.
Canfield has committed to play college soccer at Illinois-Chicago. He recently played in the High School All-American Game in Orlando, Florida, and earned a spot on the United Soccer Coaches High School All-American team.
Canfield recently spoke with the Northwest Herald about soccer, Germany and sandwiches.
After graduating eight starters, did you think this year’s team would be this good?
Canfield: Starting out, not really. We didn’t think we were going to be as good as we were. We took it as a special mentality. Competere. That was our word of the year, which basically meant ‘strive together.’ No matter who we have on our team, we still have good players. We can make anything happen. We just had to work together instead of individually.
Was there a regular-season game when you realized you had state potential?
Canfield: Probably early on when we played Morton in the PepsiCo Showdown. We knew they were a huge school [with an enrollment of 8,196], and they bring in a lot of good soccer players. [South lost in a shootout. Morton was the eventual state runner-up in Class 3A.] If we’re able to hold up to a team that tier, we were more special than we thought we were.
You set school records for goals and points. What does that mean to you?
Canfield: Honestly, it’s really cool. I’m always pretty humble when it comes to that kind of thing, but it is cool to have that under my belt, to say I do have a school record. It’s just cool.
Who was an unsung hero for South this season?
Canfield: Definitely Carson Hill, our goalkeeper. Coming into the season, I knew he’d be working really hard, and he was going to have some big shoes to fill from Matt [McCaleb] and Oscar [Estrada] last year. At first, he’s coming up, he’s trying to fill in these shoes, and it’s not easy to fill in after winning a state championship. So I can’t imagine the nerves trying to fill this spot, but he really stepped up. You can just tell from the beginning of the summer he started working really, really hard at his game and even the beginning of the season, he had already improved. Every single game, throughout the entire season, he improved every single game, no matter what.
Who is your favorite professional soccer player?
Canfield: Kylian Mbappe. He’s just, for how young he is, he’s incredible with the ball. He’s faster than all these pro athletes who’ve been doing it for years now. He just turned 20 years old, and he’s showing that he’s one of the best in the world right now. I love watching him play because he always finds a way to get through with the ball and scores a lot of goals.
You spent some years growing up in Germany and went back last summer, so what’s your go-to place in Germany?
Canfield: A big one that everyone has to do is Munich. I would say it’s not the most clean city, but it’s the most clean setup. It’s very modern, in a way, for Germany. That’s where you’ll find the big massive buildings, government sort of things. I think Munich is definitely up there.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Canfield: Slow drivers. People who drive under the speed limit.
What’s your favorite TV show?
Canfield: “The Office.” Without a doubt. It’s a classic. Who doesn’t laugh at it?
If you’re stuck on a deserted island and can bring three things, what are you bringing?
Canfield: A soccer ball. Gives me something to do. I guess I’d bring as much food as I can. Does that count? Third, an Xbox.
But you’d need a TV wouldn’t you?
Canfield: Oh yeah. Hmm. I guess my brother. Someone to keep me company.
What’s your go-to meal?