Though he may want to forget all about the last match, it was a memorable 2013 season for Garrett Gathman.
Gathman anchored the back line for a Plainfield North squad that went 15-3-3 and won the program’s first Southwest Prairie title before falling in a shootout to Oswego in its playoff opener.
“It felt satisfying to finally make a difference,” Gathman said. “It was a great feeling to prove that our program is better than people think. We showed we can play with the top teams.”
Gathman dished out 14 assists while leading a defense that allowed just 23 goals in 21 games. He was named an Illinois High School Soccer Coaches Association All-Sectional selection, as well as All-Southwest Prairie and was the Most Valuable Player in the Lemont Cup, which the Tigers won.
“The (goals allowed) numbers are especially amazing, considering we started a freshman ’keeper (Cade Fink) this season,” North coach Jim O’Hara said. “Garrett is a true leader who was a dominant center back and was dangerous on all our set pieces.”
Gathman was a big help to the youngsters on North’s squad, not just because of his skills, but because of his experience.
“As a freshman coming in, I always looked up to the seniors,” he said. “There were seniors who took me under their wing. I tried to do that for these kids this season. I always told them that any help they needed or any questions they had, they could come to me.”
Gathman can utilize his leadership skills from the back, a major reason why he loves playing defense.
“I like it because I can see the whole field,” he said. “I’m a very vocal person. From the back, I can see things that other guys can’t see and help my teammates go where they need to go. It’s almost like being an assistant coach back there. I love that.”
The highlight of a historic season for the Tigers undoubtedly came on Oct. 5, when North topped seven-time defending Southwest Prairie champion Plainfield Central 2-0.
The win was the Tigers’ first over rival Central and set them up to claim the conference crown.
“It was a big accomplishment,” Gathman said. “There’s always that big rivalry with us and Central in every sport. Last year, they beat us 5-0. So to come back and beat them my senior year, it felt really good.”
Gathman said he is considering trying to play college soccer, but he may attend Iowa State, study mechanical engineering and play intramurals.
One thing’s for sure, though. He’ll still have a presence around Plainfield North.
“The cool thing is, coach always invites all the former players to come back for summer workouts,” Gathman said. “I’m definitely planning on being there this summer. I just want to see if things are going good. Hopefully, the younger guys can have another great season next year.”