Best on the Shoreline!
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Senior forward Andrew Sherman made a significant impact for the Valley Regional boys’ soccer team this season, despite having to quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19. (Photo courtesy of Andrew Sherman)
Andrew Sherman made a big impact in a small window of time for the Valley Regional boys’ soccer team during the fall season. A senior forward, Andrew missed a few games at the beginning of an already shortened campaign, but when he returned, the Warriors’ rotation solidified and saw great success.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused plenty of issues in the sporting world in 2020. During the spring and summer, Andrew made sure to use his extra time in quarantine to his advantage.
“COVID definitely affected some parts of my game. I couldn’t play on a team in the spring, but I took the opportunity to train harder,” says Andrew. “With all the time off, I went to Indian River and Saybrook High School and trained.”
Teams across the state had an extended preseason of conditioning before they were able to compete against local opponents this past fall. Andrew saw the benefits of his own training during that long preseason, but just as Valley was getting ready to face live competition, Andrew had to sit out for two weeks due to potential exposure to COVID. That made the short season even shorter for the senior forward.
“I heard the news, and I was really frustrated. I got a test, and it came out negative. I tried to get back in the school and the season, but there’s a rule you can’t go back, even with a negative test,” Andrew says. “I took the opportunity to train even more. We had some guys playing out of position when I had to go out. [Head Coach Mick Fearon] and the guys did a good job of adapting while I was gone. I kept in contact with the guys, and I got back for a good game against Saybrook. That was fun.”
Andrew has a unique approach to his offensive attack. Andrew uses his size to his advantage to snake his way through defenders, get behind them, and create scoring chances.
“Most of my high school career, I’ve been playing a winger. We play 4-3-3, and I’m one of the three up top on the outside, usually,” says Andrew, an Essex resident. “I think because of my size and my technical skill, I’ve developed a different kind of game than some forwards. Some forwards play on the back line and pass with their back to their defense and make a run. I find runs behind the defense, go wide, and try to beat someone 1-v-1 and take the shot. It’s more of a small guy’s game.”
Andrew scored two goals and dished out three assists in just seven games this season. The Warriors never got their chance to see how they would fare in the Shoreline Conference Tournament, because Valley Regional High School had to temporarily close due to an increase in the COVID-19 positivity rate at the school. Still, Andrew feels lucky that the Warriors had the opportunity to play at all.
“Obviously, we all wanted the season to go through and get the final tournament, but I’m just really grateful to get in the games that we did. A lot of teams, a lot of states, didn’t play. I’m grateful that we got some games in this year,” Andrew says. “I think just playing on a team with guys that I’ve been friends with my whole life and being able to maintain those friendships while also succeeding in the sport is a big accomplishment.”
In the limited time that he had with Valley this season, Andrew did his best to be a leader for his teammates, especially the underclassmen. Andrew respected the work of senior captain Michael Brooks and tried to support him by setting a good example whenever he could.
“Michael was the captain, and he led with his voice, getting the players motivated. I’ve been trying to lead by example more, proving myself on the field for my teammates,” says Andrew. “In practice, it’s just putting forth a lot of effort and not slacking off or fooling around. You have to practice like you play.”
Coach Fearon values everything that Andrew brought to the table as a competitor. Fearon knew that Andrew could be a key contributor as a senior after having seen him play for the varsity team the last few years.
“Andrew has good speed, and he’s good with the ball at his feet. He has been a varsity forward since he was a freshman. He didn’t play a lot then, but he played a lot this year. He had to miss some time for contact tracing, but he was a starter for the remainder of the season when he got back.” Fearon says. “When he was out, we pushed Cam Ruel to the front and, with Andrew coming back, it gave us the better option of having Cam in midfield and Andrew playing left wing and center forward. Andrew’s best position is probably out wide, but Ryan Silva is also good out there. We swapped the two of them around. That really helped us.”
Andrew wants to continue playing soccer at the collegiate level and is also looking for a school that offers a quality business program. Andrew would like to stick close to the Northeast, so he can keep skiing with his family at Sugarbush in Vermont.
On the heels of a tumultuous season, Andrew is maintaining a positive outlook. When he looks back at the progress that he’s made with the Warriors, Andrew feels proud of the results that his hard work has yielded.
“I think perseverance is the name of the game. Persevering and hard work pays off,” says Andrew. “I was on the varsity team all four years. Freshman year, I was a swing player, but I really only played JV. Sophomore year, I was on the bench most of the time. Junior year, it was the same. This year, I got a lot of minutes, and I was really happy with myself for persevering and that I kept working at it and stayed positive.”