Vikings soccer player recognized by the NCJAA

Zoe Deno
Staff Writer

Garrett Axtman had a dicey start to his season but was soon commended by the NCJAA for his performance  on the field. Photo by Kimberly Easlick | The Hudsonian Student Newspaper

Garrett Axtman had a dicey start to his season but was soon commended by the NCJAA for his performance on the field.

Hudson Valley freshman soccer player Garrett Axtmann was the named men’s soccer NJCAA Division III Player of the Week.

“It was pretty unexpected,” said Axtmann. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates, though,” he said.

Axtmann was unaware that he had won the award until he got onto the team’s bus to go to the Mohawk Valley game and was congratulated by his teammates.

Axtmann, a business major, had not made a goal for the first few games of the season. “This year, I was actually really struggling to find my confidence and soccer is a game of confidence,” Axtmann explained. He said he was scared to take the ball in the beginning of the season.

Soccer at Hudson Valley was not what Axtmann had expected. He thought that since he was not playing for a DI or DII soccer team, it would be like playing for his high school team, the Maple Hill Wildcats; playing for Hudson Valley was much more serious. “I had to adjust. The players on these teams are college level athletes,” he said.

Axtmann, a forward on the team, doesn’t think that community college soccer gets the recognition it deserves. “Everyone on these teams are serious, and everyone is trying to make it to the next level. They just didn’t get the chance right out of school.”

Despite his rough start to the season, Axtmann’s teammates encouraged him to keep improving. Initially, his efforts didn’t seem to pay off. “I went three or four games scoreless. It was my lowest point and I felt like it wasn’t going to come to an end.”

Axtmann believes his low-point came to an end when he had a conversation with his friend and teammate Ethan Samarija, a freshman defender. They were riding on the bus home after a soccer game and Samarija described the soccer field as “his second home.”

Samarija’s words resonated with Axtmann, and he quickly adopted his friend’s perspective. After the conversation, Axtmann started watching tapes of the games he had played and he learned what he was doing wrong. With the support of his coach and his teammates, he figured out what he was doing wrong and began to fix his style of playing.

Axtmann’s hard work finally began to pay off over the course of the next three games, where he scored a collective total of 11 points. In their game against Corning, he also achieved a perfect hat trick.

In soccer, a hat trick is when one soccer player scores three consecutive goals without any other goals being made in between. A hat trick is considered perfect when one goal is made with the left foot, another is made with the right foot and the last is made with the player’s head.

When he was younger, Axtmann’s mother encouraged him to play travel soccer, and he did until the seventh grade, when he decided he wanted to be a three-sport athlete. He was inspired by a lot of professional athletes playing more than one sport.

“They said [to] do more than one sport because it just keeps you on your toes; you learn a lot more,” said Axmann.

In high school, Axtmann ran track and played basketball in addition to soccer, but he discovered that soccer is where his passion is. He wants to transfer out of Hudson Valley and hopefully play soccer at a more competitive school.

In order to transfer, Axtmann knows he will need to maintain his confidence as a player. “The sky’s the limit when I think I can compete with anybody. It is when I’m playing my best.”

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