There are few breaks in an Olympic Conference soccer schedule, so having a reliable veteran on the back line is of utmost importance.
Cherry Hill West had that luxury last season, when junior Ian Sachs, a transfer from Cherry Hill East, arrived and made an immediate impact. Sachs and the Lions recorded shutout wins over Lenape, Bishop Eustace, Camden Catholic, Cherry Hill East and Paul VI during his first month in purple and black.
“It’s everything,” West coach Dan Butler said of having a top goalkeeper. “It gives me as a coach confidence. It gives our defense and every player the confidence that the opponent is going to have to be perfect to get one into the back of the net. … (Ian is) spectacular in shot-saving, brilliant in distribution, which helps lead our counterattack and building out off the back. … He sees the field well and has good awareness and intelligence of how to defend properly. He’s the first line of communication and the last line of defense. He’s everything you could ask for.”
Sachs, now a senior mulling options of where he’ll continue his goalkeeping career in college, spoke with South Jersey Sports Weekly after West dropped a 1-0 defeat to reigning Group 4 state champion Washington Township.
SJSW: When did you first begin playing keeper?
Sachs: I was 7. My dad needed a goalkeeper for our club team. Our goalie broke his wrist. He had to put someone in and he threw me in.
SJSW: … because you’re the son. [Laughs]
Sachs: Yeah, if anyone is going to get hit in the face, it’s going to be my son. [Laughs]. We were ages 7-8, it was my first year of travel.
SJSW: When did you begin playing soccer?
Sachs: I was 4.
SJSW: Did your dad have a soccer background?
Sachs: Actually my mom (Jen) has the soccer background, but my dad (Sean) was the one who pushed me into soccer.
SJSW: Did your mom play in college?
Sachs: She played in high school and rowed in college, at Washington College in Maryland.
SJSW: What’s the most difficult aspect of being a goalie?
Sachs: Probably coming back from a mistake. Because if you’re the goalie and you make a mistake, everyone sees it and there’s usually a result in a goal. So you have to tell yourself it’s over, there’s nothing you can do about it, move on to the next one. With goalkeepers, it’s almost all mental. You can train any athlete to throw your body around, but you have to get yourself mentally ready.
SJSW: You started at Cherry Hill East, why did you decide to switch?
Sachs: I just liked the overall environment here, I had a lot of friends here, just an all-around better fit for me.
SJSW: Do you have a personal coach for goalkeeping?
Sachs: I have Coach Chris (Christiana Ogunsami), she’s our in-house goalkeeper trainer. She’s great.
SJSW: Do you have any other influences or role models?
Sachs: That’s a great question. There’s this guy in England, Dean Henderson. He’s a young, up-and-coming goalkeeper, he plays for Sheffield United right now. I feel like we have similar personalities, he’s big and bold when he plays, he has an attitude about him. I try to do the same, thinking ‘I’m better than the shooter, just try to score.’ You have to go into it thinking you’re better than them.
SJSW: Do you have siblings who play?
Sachs: I have a younger brother (Teddy) but he doesn’t play any sports. He’s huge into video games and that kid is a genius in history. He’s a sophomore at East.
SJSW: What’s your favorite school subject?
Sachs: I really like environmental sciences, that’s what I’m going to college for.
SJSW: Who do you consider to be the best goalie in the state?
Sachs: In the state? Oh, God. I mean, that’s a great question. I’ll say myself. Sure. Why not?
SJSW: Who is your favorite team to play against?
Sachs: It has to be East. Just the emotion, it’s a great atmosphere, last year we had all of the bleachers filled up. What more do you want, playing in front of your rival fans and all your friends come out? It’s pretty great.
SJSW: What are your goals for the rest of the year?
Sachs: I set a goal to be All-South Jersey. With the team, I definitely want to push for a Coaches’ Cup and I want to go far into the state tournament. I feel like there’s no reason we can’t if we can play Washington Township the way we did. I see no reason we can’t play with anybody else.
SJSW: Who do you consider the smartest person on your team?
Sachs: Griff Martello. He’s in my AP classes.
SJSW: How about funniest?
Sachs: Ethan Steinbiss. The kid never fails to make me laugh. He’s the one you can all make fun of, but he can take it really well.
SJSW: How about the toughest?
Sachs: Ian Dolan. That kid will play through any injury he gets, he won’t go down.
SJSW: Who is your favorite player to watch on another South Jersey team?
Sachs: Last year, Luke Leach (of Seneca). The kid’s a monster. You have to constantly be on your toes and always have an eye on him. He was really fun to play against and a good guy with a great shot.
SJSW: How about this year, we decide to have a pickup game with every player in South Jersey available. Who would you pick first?
Sachs: Eddie Grant from East. The kid’s a monster, I played with him obviously for a long time. He’s someone I know can lead a game.
SJSW: What’s your favorite thing to do outside of soccer?
Sachs: I like to sleep, I’m big into sleep.
SJSW: [Laughs] That’s the second straight week I’ve gotten that answer.
Sachs: Yeah I’m playing every day, and then on weekends I work (at Dominos).
SJSW: Any TV show you’re into right now, binge watching?
Sachs: You can’t go wrong with Family Guy, American Dad and Bob’s Burgers. Bob’s Burgers is the most underrated show on TV.
SJSW: Favorite teacher at West?
Sachs: Mr. (Brian) Grillo, environmental science teacher, great guy.
SJSW: Last one: we’re at an end-of-the-season state championship game or All-Star Game and they’re announcing rosters. What song are you coming out to when they announce your name?
Sachs: Oooooh. It can’t be something serious. It can’t be. I’ve thought about this actually. “Dancing Queen” by ABBA. Put me out there, I’ll bust a move for everyone. Give everyone a little taste, see my victory dance.