Updated: Dec 6, 2022
Sophomore Christopher Galiana glanced across the field, found his cousin Xavier Galeana, a freshman, and made a perfectly-executed 25-yard pass over the heads of everyone.
Just like a quarterback to his favorite receiver, but instead, it was between a pair of midfielders on the Imlay City boys soccer team.
The ball landed just in front of Galeana who made a quick stop with his feet, squared up with the net, and scored the final goal of last night’s game against Richmond. The Spartans would win 7-0.
“Oh that was a really great cross,” head coach Luis Hernandez said. “You know that one touch right there [by Galeana] was perfect. You can’t ask for any more. It just dropped the ball in front of you so you can take a decent shot and that's literally what happened.”
That one play proved two things about the Imlay City soccer program: its chemistry is unparalleled and its talent runs deep.
The Spartans have been in control of BWAC soccer for as long as any of these boys can remember. Not a single senior on this year’s roster has ever lost a conference match. They came close when they tied with Richmond 2-2 back in 2019, but that’s it. And they’re not about to slow down anytime soon.
Hernandez said when the MHSAA announced this year it would allow players three halves of competition in one day between JV and varsity games, his varsity players were quick to ask for more playing time.
"They love the sport...They're playing every and anywhere they can play," Hernandez said. "A lot of seniors ask me, 'Hey, can we play with the JV?' Oh no. That's not going to work really well for us or anybody."
Six different Spartans scored in last night’s victory:
Senior Sergio Galiana found the net first, assisted by his sophomore brother Christopher Galiana about two minutes into the game.
About 15 minutes later, senior Edwin Galindo athletically navigated his way through several defenders before making a pass to sophomore Sebastian Salcedo who scored the second Spartan goal. With about 15 minutes remaining in the half, senior Edson Zepeda scored after he headed the ball in off of a corner kick pass from Salcedo.
And less than two minutes later, sophomore Nery Vega made a long, angled shot, assisted by junior Dilan Garcia, to put the team ahead 4-0.
Senior Jose Salcedo scored the final goal of the first half and the first goal of the second half – assisted by his brother Sebastian Salcedo both times. Jose Salcedo said he knew it was important to keep his team’s momentum strong and controlled.
“We’ve got to keep them up. You’ve got to keep them going. You've got to yell at them, but that’s a part of the game. We’ve got to make sure we score you know, really nothing much else,” he said. “Just pass the ball and play calm. That's exactly what we did today.
“There's always room to improve. On some shots, we could have finished a lot more. We did rush at the end, we could have played a little slower,” Jose Salcedo added,“but for the most part, we kept good possession.”
They certainly maintained good possession. In fact, the two Spartan goalkeepers, sophomore Quintin Ramirez and junior Christopher Madrid, combined for just three saves on the night, while Richmond’s Gavin Yelenich had at least 25, according to head coach Lance Whitney.
And according to Vega, it's the team's chemistry that allows for that kind of possession.
“It means everything [to play with this team]. They’re just unbelievable. They move around so well,” he said. "My chemistry with them, it’s beautiful too, so I felt like I fit into this team a lot.”
The Spartans now stand 4-0 in conference and will play Ortonville Brandon tonight. The Blue Devils fall to 2-1 in the BWAC and will return to action on their home field against Croswell-Lexington on Sept. 12.