South Jersey is teeming with so much high school soccer talent that you can pretty much show up to any field any day of the week during the fall and find a highly-skilled, future Division-I athlete patrolling the pitch.
Deptford High School is among the many schools blessed with such talent. Senior Leah Giles, a three-year captain, controls the game for the Spartans.
“This is only my first year here, but I’ve heard it time after time, she’s got her stuff together, she communicates with everybody, and she’s our playmaker,” Deptford assistant coach Liz Faulkner said. “The girls all take to her. She’s not one of those captains that’s in your face and screaming. Sometimes it’s just example, and that’s what she is on the field, and all of the girls follow suit right away.”
Deptford improved to 3-2 on the young season with a 4-1 win at Highland on Sept. 17. Not surprisingly, Leah Giles assisted on two of the Spartans’ goals.
Giles had 20 assists as a junior last season and, as a sophomore, led the entire state with 30 assists in 2016, when she helped Deptford reach the South Jersey Group 2 semifinals (where it suffered an overtime lost to Haddonfield).
Deptford will hope to make another state run next month. But the Spartans do have a fun date on the schedule before then: they’ll play against Gloucester County Institute of Technology (GCIT) at Talen Energy Stadium (home of the Philadelphia Union) on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 4 p.m.
And now The Sun One-on-One with Leah Giles.
The Sun: I did some research and saw there are two other Giles’ who played at Deptford.
Giles: My sister (Lauren) played soccer, my brother (Riley) played football. [Editor’s note: Riley Giles is the current quarterback at Rowan University].
#Rowan QB Riley Giles had an impressive night tonight, with a 71.4 completion percentage, a 89.6 QBR and a 96.3 QBR on 3rd-down attempts [7-9, 64 passing yards on 3rd down]. Leads Rowan to victory over rival SVU, 20-17.
— Kyle Lutz (@KyleLutzWhit) September 9, 2018
The Sun: You’re the youngest then?
Giles: Yup, I’m the last one (of three).
The Sun: So if there was a family draft, who would get drafted first for a pickup soccer game?
Giles: Probably my sister, I think she would.
Congrats to Leah Giles on being named to the South Jersey Soccer Coaches Association 1st team! Great job Leah and keep up the good work!! pic.twitter.com/0tWEXtZxEV
— DTHS Athletics (@DTHS_Athletics) January 23, 2018
The Sun: Are you just being modest?
Giles: No, no. She’s pretty good. I mean, she’s washed up now.
The Sun: [Laughs].
Giles: She tore both of her ACLs.
The Sun: Aw, man.
Giles: But if she was in her prime, I think she would be drafted first.
The Sun: How much older is she than you?
Giles: She’s nine years older. My brother is two years older.
The Sun: Who is the best athlete in your family? Are you mom and your dad athletes?
Giles: My dad (Jamie Giles). He played football. But also baseball and basketball. Also at Deptford High School.
The Sun: So who began playing soccer?
Giles: My mom (Gina Giles) played for a couple of years, I think, but she was more into field hockey and lacrosse. I think my sister just wanted to do it one day, and I figured if my sister did it then I have to do it of course.
The Sun: With a sister that much older, were you always looking up to her?
Giles: Always. All the time.
The Sun: She’s your soccer idol.
Giles: Yeah, if I have a who’s-your-idol paper to write about, I’d be like, oh my God, it’s my sister! [Laughs].
The Sun: Do you have a favorite professional athlete?
Giles: Does it have to be soccer?
The Sun: Nope.
Giles: Probably Carson Wentz.
The Sun: Do you have a favorite soccer player?
Giles: I guess Lionel Messi.
The Sun: Does your number 3 have any significance?
Giles: My sister was 3 in high school.
The Sun: I saw you’re going to La Salle University to play soccer? Did you just want to stick with the same colors?
Giles: [Laughs]. No, I verbally committed sophomore year. It’s just where I wanted to be. I just knew it was perfect.
The Sun: You wanted to stay close to home.
Giles: Definitely. And my mom’s side of the family lives in Philly, so everybody can make it. It’s perfect.
The Sun: What do you think about how your Deptford team has played this year? I know you started out strong in the season’s first week.
Giles: I definitely think we’re still rebuilding from last year. We only graduated a couple of seniors, but we added a couple of freshman into the mix, so we’re still trying to learn where people go.
The Sun: It’s still early in the season.
Giles: It definitely is.
The Sun: Deptford is known for its shopping district. Do you have a favorite place to go?
Giles: Maybe the outlets, the Gloucester (Premium) Outlets.
The Sun: Favorite place to eat?
Giles: Olive Garden I’d have to say. [Laughs].
The Sun: Last movie you saw?
Giles: “Avengers: Infinity War.”
The Sun: Do you have a favorite, go-to movie to get you pumped up?
Giles: “Remember the Titans.”
The Sun: Last question, similar to the first one: if all of South Jersey had a pick-up girls soccer game, who would be drafted first?
Giles: (Washington Township’s) Amanda Attanasi, definitely.
The Sun: OK, that was too easy. Let’s say you had the second pick and the other team took her first.
Giles: I don’t even know, oh gosh. Cameron Morgan. She’s from Shawnee.
The Sun: There’s a lot of good talent in South Jersey this year.
Giles: There is.