May 21, 2010
Simply put, Alex Silverman is a gamer. At 5’11 170 pounds, he doesn’t have the prototypical size for a goalie.
“I’m pretty small as far as goalies go,” Silverman jokes.
But what Silverman may lack in size, he more than makes up for in skill, hustle, hard work, and plain old heart.
Watching Silverman play can turn even the biggest soccer hater into a fan of the sport. He is a fearless leader, constantly barking out instructions to teammates, he makes highlight reel saves in a sport where just one goal can be the difference between winning and losing. And in a sport where players are often criticized for flopping, Silverman is an extremely physical player, hurdling through opposing players with reckless abandon.
Silverman just finished a four-year Varsity career for Harvard-Westlake that up until recently, had been mostly filled with teams that had immense talent but failed to do anything substantial in the playoffs.
In fact, heading into his senior year Silverman’s Wolverines had never even advanced to CIF semifinals. And late in the first game of CIF playoffs it looked as if the Wolverines were going to have their worst finish in Silverman’s tenure.
The Wolverines were at Royal High School, down 1-0 in the middle of the second half. A ball knocked out of bounds by a Royal midfielder set up a free kick about 5 yards behind mid-field. Normally one of the Wolverines mid-fielders or defense man would take the ball but with the Wolverines in such dire straights, Silverman took the kick.
“I was just hoping to knock it close to the goal, maybe get somebody to knock it in,” Silverman said.
Then as Silverman launched a massive kick, something funny happened. The ball took a bounce right over the goalie’s head and into the goal. Silverman had tied it up.
“It didn’t’ even register at first. As a goalie you never expect to score, let alone in a playoff game to tie it up,” Silverman said.
The Wolverines rode the momentum of Silverman’s shocking goal and beat Royal on penalty kicks, with Silverman stoning Royal penalty kickers to seal the deal.
The Wolverines then were heavy underdogs against top ranked Long Beach Millikan in the second round, but a Silverman shutout led to a shocking Wolverines victory. Then in the quarters against El Toro, Silverman again made highlight reel stop after highlight reel stop, giving the Wolverines another 1-0 victory. In the CIF semifinals Silverman again refused to budge, letting nothing through in a 0-0 contest that the Wolverines would win in penalty kicks, setting the stage for the program’s first ever CIF finals appearance. The squad would end up losing to Junipero Serra in a 2-1 battle but the program had climbed to new heights, all on the back of their fearless goalie.
Soon the personal accolades starting coming in for Silverman, as he was named CIF defensive player of the year and the player of the year for all of Division 1 soccer by the Daily News.
So Silverman must have a whole host of colleges fighting for his services, right? Wrong.
Silverman was hardly even recruited. Despite his incredible play and all his personal accolades, Silverman was not offered a spot at any of his top schools and will instead try to walk on at the University of Pennsylvania.
“I had always wanted to play soccer at the next level and went to a few camps over the summer but it is just so hard to get noticed,” Silverman explains.
“Coaches are looking for that 6’1, 6’2 goalie or that guy that has the best physical gifts and even though those guys are great players, lots of other players can get passed up in the process,” Silverman said.
Silverman is a perfect example of a great kid who falls through the cracks because of the flaws in the recruiting process. In the current economic climate most schools don’t have the funds to be able to scout the entire pool of talent and instead are forced to focus only on local players. For Silverman, somebody who wanted to go to college on the east coast for academics, this poses a problem.
“For some west coast kids it is just hard to get noticed,” Silverman said. “College soccer has been forced to take some big budget cuts so programs can’t really find kids that could make an impact.”
So even though Silverman had a stellar 4.2 GPA, a mind blowing 32 on his ACT, and play that speaks for itself he somehow went under scouts radar.
Silverman hopes to walk on at Penn, saying, “I just love soccer, I want to go there and just help the team out in anyway I can. I just love the game and want to play at any level.”
And while in the end of the day everything worked out for Silverman, there are sure to be plenty of kids just like him who don’t get their due because of the inherent problems in the recruiting process.
“I just love playing,” Silverman says.
Silverman, and all other great California players, deserve the chance.
by Jack Davis President and CEO of Cali High Sports
by Jack Davis
President and CEO of Cali High Sports