The 2017 season was always going to pose a goal-scoring challenge for the Red Foxes after the departure of sophomore Cameron Harr. Harr, the team’s leading goal scorer in 2016 and MAAC Offensive Player of the Year, transferred to the University of Virginia. Head Coach Matt Viggiano lost Harr’s natural ability to score goals, but found a gem in a young man out of St. Benedict’s Prep, N.J.
“Every day I drop by the field and he’s out there. He’s internally motivated to be great,” said Viggiano of freshman midfielder Allen Gavilanes. Gavilanes proved in 2017 that he can compete at the Division I level despite his young age, and he has attracted national attention for his talent.
“I’m not going to sit here and lie and tell you I thought he was going to be Player of the Year as a freshman,” joked Viggiano about his young ace.
Just a year after Harr was awarded the MAAC Offensive Player of the Year, Gavilanes came out of nowhere to lead the Red Fox attack and receive the same award. Additionally, he was awarded MAAC Rookie of the Year, was named to the First Team All-MAAC and the MAAC All-Rookie team. Top Drawer Soccer ranked Gavilanes as the 24th best college soccer player in the country–a ranking that puts him in the same territory as some of the nation’s biggest programs such as Indiana, Duke, and Michigan. “I’m very happy I won many awards and I’m only motivated even more to help my team and win collective awards with the team,” Gavilanes said.
The North Plainfield, N.J. native was able to produce a dazzling freshman performance despite his age and size. Standing at just 5 feet 7 inches and 135 pounds, Gavilanes scored a team-leading eight goals and nine assists throughout the campaign.
“What he does with the ball is just magic. Just being on the field with someone who has accomplished so much is a real honor. His work rate, skill and talent with the soccer ball are pure professionalism,” said teammate Enzo Petrocelli.
Gavilanes’ ability to translate the skill he showed in high school to success at the college level has clearly attracted the interest of larger programs.
“There have been many big schools that have contacted me, but I’m with Marist right now and I’m focused on improving here for now,” Gavilanes said on his status. Coach Viggiano described the player as loyal and family-oriented and seemed convinced that Gavilanes will hold true to his core values as a Red Fox. Despite that, a variety of schools are clearly looking to pry the young star away from the smaller Marist program.
Something to look forward to for Red Fox fans is the surprise return of Harr in the fall of 2018. In addition to the rise of Gavilanes, the Marist attack will add the scoring prowess of the 2016 leading scorer in the conference. With the two most recent MAAC Offensive Players of the Year leading one offense, fans should expect perhaps one of Marist’s most potent offenses ever.
It seems that Gavilanes is here to stay for now, and that he will remain an integral part of the squad for 2018.
There is no telling what the future will bring for this young player, but as for his sophomore season, Gavilanes has one goal: “I want to win the MAAC next year.”
“I truly believe that this team will go far next season with the people who are coming in and the guys we already have. That team can bring silverware to our trophy case,” Petrocelli reiterated.
Marist has a well rounded soccer player and young man in Allen Gavilanes. Though he may have ambitions of going elsewhere in the future, he has his mind set on Marist and the highly anticipated 2018 season.