The underdog story is a story retold hundreds of times over but each underdog and onlooker has a different unique build up, climax and aftermath. Individuals pull their own special meaning. When our very own University of San Francisco men’s soccer team upended No.12 Stanford University last month, every player’s build up to that moment was different, but each of their experiences converged on a collision course to greatness. In front of a sellout crowd, senior David Garrett helped USF put on a show that none of the people in attendance would forget anytime soon. In fact, Garrett smashed home a goal that ultimately decided the game 2-1 in favor of the Dons.
Garrett’s soccer roots go all the way back to his hometown of Kalmar, Sweden. Growing up he was a devout Arsenal F.C. fan because of their style of play, high quality managing by Arsene Wenger and his favorite player of all-time, the great Thierry Henry. Any good player will try to emulate the best players, which is why he looks to fellow strikers Henry and Luis Suarez and 3-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo. Before coming to USF, Garrett played for Kalmar FF, a professional Swedish team based out of his hometown in the southwest corner of Sweden. His big 6’1” frame and keen eye for finding open space caught USF’s eye. “When USF contacted me, I was going for it. It was a dream scenario. A no-brainer.” He liked how San Francisco had strong academics and a solid soccer program; he felt he could come on and be an impact player.
Uprooting himself and moving to San Francisco wasn’t a seamless transition by any means. He experienced speed bumps just like anyone moving to the U.S. for the first time. Luckily the language wasn’t a problem, his father spoke English so it was easier for him to acclimate. His biggest challenge was being on his own person and finding his own path. He found comfort in his teammates but two in particular: San Jose native Christian de Luna and American-born but German-raised Joshua Smith. When Garrett feels homesick he’ll Skype his parents, but his teammates and close group of friends have helped him the most when it comes to being 5,500 miles away from home.
Though the goal against Stanford is one he’ll remember forever, donning the USF insignia hasn’t always been glorious for Garrett. Last season was disappointing in the fact that they lost a lot of close 1-goal games. He relished in one particular moment against Santa Clara when Santiago Digiuseppe scored the lone goal of the game until the Broncos earned and converted a penalty kick in the waning minutes. With one last through ball in the final seconds, Garrett slotted home a winning goal in the left side of the net. Frustration for the team continued to boil over in a season that seemed like the stars were aligned against them. But the Santa Clara game was one he remembers distinctly because it proved to him that they were just getting unlucky breaks.
Coming into this season, expectations were high. USF was even picked to finish second in the West Coast Conference but they just haven’t played up to par. “We know we have the potential to be a top D-1 conference team, we just haven’t proved it yet. We finally took steps towards that.” Garrett has led the team this year with four goals thus far as they prepare for conference play beginning on Oct. 9 versus Santa Clara. Garrett has compiled 14 goals and 2 assists throughout his time here at USF.
Garrett will be graduating at the end of this fall semester. So the end of the soccer season also marks the end of his undergraduate life. He’s not exactly sure what he’ll be doing after graduation but the goal is to play professional soccer, possibly in the MLS. “You never know what’ll happen but I would take it if I got the chance,” Garrett said. As I ask him about his time here at USF and in San Francisco he makes it a point to mention his personal growth from all the good experiences and bad. College is where he’s had the most personal development. Though he may not be in San Francisco after graduation he’ll always remember heading down to the piers, exploring the city, going to the beach and relaxing with his teammates on days off and the view from Twin Peaks.
Men’s soccer will play Santa Clara here at Negoesco on October 9 at 7pm.
PHOTO CREDIT: DONS ATHLETICS/ FLICKR