Photo by Bill Roseberry
Alton's Eric Ferenbach attempts to split a pair of Edwardsville defenders during an Oct. 1 Southwestern Conference affair at Gordon Moore Park. Entering Wednesday, Ferenbach leads the Redbirds with 18 goals this season.
Like any senior varsity athlete, Alton soccer player Eric Ferenbach entered his final year with big aspirations.
And he’s certainly made his mark on St. Louis’ prep soccer scene this year. Ferenbach, a 6-foot-1, 180-pound forward, netted 18 goals so far this season — making him one of St. Louis’ top 20 scorers along with players like Gage Reichmuth of DeSoto (31 goals), Jake Ridenhour of Jersey (24), Kane Osterhage of Waterloo (23), Cade Breed of Mater Dei (23), Sean Rickey of Columbia (21), Sean Gouveia of Belleville West (20) and Zach Weinman of Marquette Catholic (20).
The AHS senior scored more than one goal in a match on more than one occasion, as he scored four goals against Triad on August 28 and again against Hazelwood East on Sept. 14 and then pulled a hat trick against Civic Memorial on Sept. 12.
According to Ferenbach though his biggest goal came on Oct. 1 when he scored in a 1-0 victory over Edwardsville at Gordon Moore Park. The win over the Tigers was the first for the Redbirds since Sept. 23, 2006. Entering Wednesday the Birds owned a 9-6-3 record on the season.
“That one was definitely the biggest one, because that was the biggest win we’ve had,” Ferenbach said. “It was just a huge goal.”
Alton coach Jay Robertson referred to Ferenbach’s performance this fall as dynamic.
“He plays well with his back to the goal to get a good turn on,” Robertson said. “He has an explosive first step and is accurate with the left and right foot. He’s just a big, strong kid.”
Alton only plays one forward this year and the senior said being isolated up top, which allows him a lot of space to work with, and playing through balls both helps him turn in quality offensive performances, but he also credited Alton’s midfielders Nick Hatfield (six assists) and Skylar Funk’s (10 assists) distribution skills.
“We have good midfielders who pass me quality balls,” Ferenbach said.
He didn’t play for Alton as a sophomore. The forward plays select soccer with the Scott Gallagher Soccer Club, which prohibits high school players from playing on one of their teams and a high school team simultaneously. He chose to play for Gallagher during the high school soccer season in his sophomore year.
“It offers great training and all of the teams are quality,” Ferenbach said on Gallagher.
The forward played at the varsity level for Alton as a freshman and when he returned to Alton’s soccer program as a junior, Ferenbach finished the season with 11 goals and earned all-Southwestern Conference honors.
Ferenbach thinks his senior campaign will be the best of his three-year prep career. The senior said he’s picked up the level of his play from last year.
“We have a better quality of team this year with moving the ball and team play,” he said.
Ferenbach said weight training and running two to three miles a day in the offseason helped him develop the speed required of a varsity forward. When it comes to where his team needs to be by the end of the year, the forward said Alton could place in the top three in SWC play and do well in the postseason.
A one-sport athlete, Ferenbach said concentrating on soccer helped him retain a singular focus which he counts as a positive. He started playing soccer at five years of age in a recreational league in East Alton.
“When I started, I knew I loved it,” Ferenbach said. “I really like scoring, I can remember scoring three or four goals in a game.”
Ferenbach said he counts SIUE, University of Central Florida and Embry-Riddle as schools he would like to attend to study aerospace engineering. He’s undecided on playing soccer at the next level.