Gallagher leads the Irish offense to fast start
Joe Everett | Wednesday, September 21, 2016
As the ball split through the outstretched hands and legs of the Connecticut goalkeeper last week, Jon Gallagher spread his arms with an expression of joy and disbelief, rushed towards the team bench, slid on the ground and was instantly mobbed by his teammates.
You could say it’s been a pretty good year for the junior forward.
Gallagher’s golden goal last Tuesday against the Huskies in the second overtime period gave the Irish (6-1-0, 1-1-0 ACC) the score they’d been looking for all game. It’s been a special start to the season for the men’s soccer team, thanks in large part to the play of Gallagher, the Ireland native who has been a constant source of energy and talent for the Irish. Earlier this year after his six-point performance at the adidas/IU Credit Union Classic, Gallagher was recognized as the ACC Offensive Player of the Week and the College Soccer News National Player of the Week. Head coach Bobby Clark commented on the character of the junior forward and the example he sets everyday.
“[Jon’s] a terrific young man, he loves soccer, no question,” Clark said.“He’s a pro, because his attitude’s very professional … He’s very committed to being the best he can be. He does everything he can possibly do to be as good a soccer player as he can be. He’s just a hard worker, on and off the field.”
Gallagher is vital to the success of the Irish attack, creating scoring opportunities for others, capitalizing on the opportunities he gets and putting constant pressure on the back line of the opponent, whether on offense or defense. Clark noted how Gallagher has excelled from his forward position.
“Being a forward, obviously scoring goals is a prerequisite,” Clark said. “You want a forward that has the ability to score goals, and he certainly does that. But he also works very hard, pressures very hard, because our defense starts with our forwards … They’re a very important part of how we defend, especially if we lose the ball in the opponent’s half, we immediately try to get it back.”
As well as providing the intangibles, Gallagher has padded the stat sheet so far this year and leads the Irish in several categories, including assists (3), shots (28) and shots on goal (17). With his five goals and three assists, Gallagher is also tied with senior defender Brandon Aubrey for most total points at 13. Standing just 5-foot-9, Gallagher isn’t the biggest guy on the field, Clark noted, but he makes up for it due to his natural talent combined with his high level of dedication.
“Amazingly fast — he’s a very good athlete and amazingly strong,” Clark said. “Pound for pound, he’s very, very strong, and he works very hard at his fitness — both his strength and his speed, and his endurance. It’s not often you get somebody who’s as fast as he is, but also has good endurance. He has both, and that’s a terrific asset for a soccer player because you can play the 90 minutes but can still keep your speed.”
Beyond his value on the field, Clark said Gallagher, who was named to both the All-ACC Third Team and the ACC All-Academic Team last year, embodies what it means to be a student-athlete.
“He just loves the game,” Clark said. “He’s got a really good soccer knowledge, so he’s been a terrific acquisition for the program and for the school.”