Ivan Magana can’t remember a time when he didn’t play soccer on a regular basis.
“My family always jokes that I’ve always had a soccer ball at my feet,” he said. “I’ve been playing since I was 4 years old.”
The Shepard senior forward said his dad could not wait to get him on the soccer field.
“My dad became coach of the youth league that I played in and snuck me in a year early,” he said. “It was supposed to be for ages 5 and up, but I started playing in it when I was 4.”
The early start has paid off.
Magana has developed into one of the Southland’s most dangerous forwards, possessing a combination of strength and speed that makes him tough to stop.
He had seven goals through the Astros’ first 11 matches, including two in a huge Sept. 30 win over defending South Suburban Red champion Eisenhower, a victory that put the Astros in first place in the conference.
“That was such a big win for us,” he said. “It means a lot for the program and we want to keep going and win the conference title.”
Of course, Magana knows that won’t be an easy task, especially in a sport where upsets are commonplace. In fact, he says that’s one of his favorite things about soccer.
“I really love the unpredictability of it,” he said. “You can be a last-place team, and on any day you can beat a first-place team. Anyone can beat anyone. It’s a sport where little things make all the difference.”
Magana said the presence of new coach Tim Eyer, a former Astros soccer player, has made a big difference for this team this season.
“We’re all coming together and the new management of Tim is definitely a big reason why,” he said. “You can just tell how much he loves the game. His passion and his intensity are probably as high as any of our players.”