This isn’t the first time Garnet senior Max Crothall has appeared in the pages of The Rye Record for his soccer-playing talents. Almost two and a half years ago, we ran a story headlined, “Two Rye Youth Soccer Players Will Spend Next Year Playing in Europe.”
At that time, a pair of goalkeeping prodigies — Max and his boyhood friend Jimmy Halasz — made the decision to spend their next year playing in Europe. Jimmy went to Spain to play for the youth academy in Malaga, and Max traveled to France to play for the International Center of European Football in Evian. Max stayed a second year in Evian before returning home for senior year and playing for Head Coach Jared Small’s Garnets.
His play has been scintillating. Coach Small had this to say in nominating him: “Max has had a brilliant season. He is a strong shot stopper with fantastic positioning and reflexes, and his communication and distribution are first-rate. He made a season high seven saves, all of which were of the highlight-reel variety, in our 1-0 win over Class AA state-ranked Eastchester.”
The coach added, “In the bigger picture, Max’s commitment to training and his maturity have helped his fellow goalkeepers — juniors Aydan Breen and Martin Fields — bring their own training regimes to a higher level.”
We asked Max: “Which is harder, facing a lot of the future pros in Europe who play for the Paris Saint-Germain and Olympique de Marseille academies, or taking on Section 1 powers like Tappan Zee and Eastchester?”
He replied thoughtfully, “The players over there are technically better than almost all the American high school boys, but they expect to win nine or ten times out of ten, so maybe they don’t put everything into it each game. Here, the passion on the pitch is much more. Each kid’s giving it his all, and that makes high school play harder.”
Asked how his play improved while he was away, Max answered quickly, “I’m much more confident. I have a level of self-belief I didn’t have before.”
And that confidence is on full display this season. In 15 games, the Garnets are 12-3 entering the playoffs, and Max has allowed just 11 goals in those 15 games.
Max’s father was an English rugby and cricket player, whom his son credits for introducing him to soccer at an early age. While his mother didn’t play organized sports, Max’s sister, who is a freshman, is already an accomplished gymnast.
In addition to thanking his parents for helping him win this award — “I’ve got to say they are behind me 100 percent” — he thanked John Halasz, his friend Jimmy’s father, a former professional goalkeeper in his own right. “Mr. Halasz was my first coach, and I wouldn’t be the keeper I am without him.”
When Max isn’t playing soccer, he particularly enjoys Mr. Goldman’s Public Speaking/Debate course. He’s undecided on college and a future career, although being a history teacher — if he doesn’t become a professional soccer player — has great appeal.
“Living in France,” he said, “I got to see how being a pro player isn’t all about fancy cars and a glamorous lifestyle. A lot of players are just getting by.”
Finally, asked if he has any quirks even his friends don’t know about, Max said, “My room is immaculate. I love being organized; I even store my laundry in a particular way, so I can get what I need quickly. I guess that comes from fending for myself the last two years.”