Sports

St. Mary’s Garcia has postseason in his vision

(ITEM FILE PHOTO)

LYNN — St. Mary’s senior Chris Garcia has gotten a taste of a deep postseason run.

Back in 2015, when Garcia was a sophomore, the Spartans’ soccer team went all the way to the Division 4 state final before falling to Monson. Now, as one of the captains of the St. Mary’s squad for the upcoming season, Garcia is hungrier than ever to get back there.

“Words can’t explain how badly I want to get back,” Garcia said. “When we played in that state final, my heart was beating so fast. That feeling is just amazing.”

Garcia has been working hard in the offseason to make his senior year the best yet. That includes playing for the GPS Massachusetts National Premier League (GPS NPL) club team, ranked the top program in the state and the region and 32nd nationally.

Garcia also got the chance to travel to Madrid as he was selected to play for the FC Bayern National Team. From June 26 to July 4, Garcia got the chance to play against elite players and to be trained by professional coaches.

““From day one when I stepped into Spain, I knew why I was there. Everyone who had helped me get there knew I was supposed to be on top.”

The four days included practicing and training with professional coaches and playing against top-notch talent.

“I played against three of the hardest teams I’ve ever played against. The level was high,” Garcia said. “It was nothing like U.S. soccer. I feel like (the experience is) going to help with awareness and knowledge of the game.”

Garcia is taking what he learned from the unique experience and aiming for lofty goals this season, both for himself personally and his team.

“We’re trying to win everything. Every little thing,” Garcia said. “I can’t say we’re going to win a state final or a (Catholic Central League) championship or even the city tournament. It takes hard work, dedication and heart. But I know for a fact we’re going to go far and will try our hardest to win every game, but we’ll take it one game at a time.”

The senior has his sights set on some individual accolades as well.

“I want to be an Eastern Mass. all-star, Gatorade Player of the Year, state all-star,” Garcia listed off. “It’s going to take hard work.”

Garcia and the other Spartans captains have been holding practices twice a week in preparation for the season. The senior says he’s feeling good about where the team is at.

“The team has been phenomenal,” Garcia said. “We know how to pass, the chemistry is still high, we’re going to do everything we can to win.”

The weight of the newly-appointed captain’s role is not lost on Garcia.

“I’m one of the leaders, the one the team looks up to, and who basically represents the St. Mary’s soccer team,” he said.

Garcia has been a key piece of the St. Mary’s squad right from the beginning of his high school career. As a freshman in 2014 he was brought onto the varsity team, and that’s where he’s stayed ever since.

Having three seasons of varsity experience under his belt definitely helps when it comes to his loftier role on the team, Garcia says.

“It gives me the attitude to be able to show the team who is the leader and why,” he said.

He’s also taken cues from his former teammates, including 2015 captains Kevin Esper and Dan Montoya.

“I’ve known those two since I was four,” Garcia said. “They taught me how to be confident in high school and show why you’re there and who you’re there for, to represent St. Mary’s.”

The Spartans’ quest for a state title begins September 5, as they take on English in the Lynn City Tournament first round, a rematch of last year’s final. English toppled St. Mary’s, 3-1, to earn the city title. That loss is still on Garcia’s mind.

“Of course, it’s all we’ve been thinking about,” Garcia said of the upcoming tournament. “We have to take it one day and one game at a time.”

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