Grayslake Central midfielder Alan Alonso has entered his senior season with high expectations for himself.
After registering five goals and four assists as a junior, Alonso wanted to tap into his full potential. Then star forward Danik Marynevitch suffered a season-ending knee injury in September.
“I think Danik is a very good player, but a lot of people were in his shadow,” Alonso said. “He was our top scorer. But once he left the light shone on me and I was able to perform well.
Alonso, the 2022 News-Sun Boys Soccer Player of the Year, scored 15 goals and 23 assists as Grayslake Central (19-2-3) returned to the state for the second straight season and won the Class 2A third place trophy. Among Alonso’s goals was the winner of the Rams win 1-0 against Northern Lake County Conference rival Wauconda in a sectional semifinal.
Grayslake Central coach Keith Andersson said he didn’t watch Alonso play much two years ago because he was coaching at the lower levels. When Andersson was appointed as head coach before last season, he said he saw Alonso grow into an exceptional player.
“When Alan came back for his senior season, he could slash a ball with both feet, and you couldn’t tell if he was left-handed or right-handed,” Andersson said. “His level of fitness also stood out. He was extremely fit and that paid off for the team.
“He always wanted us to push him and the team to their limits, so we did. He’s extremely competitive and leaves everything on the pitch.
Alonso has decided he needs to push harder this season.
“I didn’t think I played in my senior and junior high school years at my best, at least stat-wise,” Alonso said. “I didn’t have the best stats at the start of my senior year. One of my goals was to be an all-stater and get 10+ goals.
Alonso, a team captain, said his improvement required a change in attitude, both on and off the pitch.
“I knew the summer after my second season that I had talent and was a hardworking kid on the pitch because my dad told me so,” he said. “He told me that I could be a great player if I did the right things. My parents showed me a new perspective.
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“I improved during my junior season, but I knew I had to be a bigger role model and leader this season. I’m not the most outgoing person and I’m shy off the pitch. But I do. took over.”
Having younger brothers in the program provided Alonso with extra motivation. Jaziel Alonso is a second-year midfielder and Uriel Alonso is a first-year defender.
“It’s harder for me to be a leader for my brothers than for my teammates, because with my brothers it involves so much more than football,” said Alan Alonso. “It involves schoolwork, being a good influence, staying away from bad people. I was inspired to be a leader.
“I wanted to be an inspiration to my brothers – like if I could do these great things, they could too, if they really wanted to.”
Alonso wants to continue his playing career in college and is interested in a few Division III programs. Andersson said Alonso is a potential gem for a college team because of his evolving game and leadership traits.
“I’m not sure I’ve ever had a child as talented as Alan,” Andersson said. “He’s the best box-to-box player I’ve ever seen, and with his ability to defend, I’ve never seen a guy defend as vigorously as he does against gigantic guys. Hope the colleges are attentive.
Bobby Narang is a freelance journalist for the News-Sun.