Northeast won the Public League championship for the fourth straight season.
If you happen to be in Florida this winter and see someone walking around with a jacket, chances are you’ll be looking at Alejandro Giraldo.
Giraldo, a senior at Northeast High School, annually visits his mom in the Sunshine State over winter break. And just as he did last year, he can’t wait to head South with his favorite coat.
“Last year, I wore my Public League championship jacket because I wanted to show my mom,” Giraldo said. “Last year wasn’t too bad because it was a little cold there. I love our jackets. There’s nothing like winning a Public League championship, and I love wearing it because that tells everyone we did it.”
Last year, the Vikings did it.
This year, they did it again.
For the fourth straight season, Northeast won the Public League championship.
This year, the team avenged its only Public League loss in the championship game when it bested Central 2–1. The Vikings went on to fall to La Salle in the District 12 final and concluded their season with a 4–1 loss to Council Rock North at Truman High School on Nov. 7.
The Vikings ended their season at 10–5–1, but the biggest triumph was keeping their streak of championship seasons alive.
“Winning the Public League means everything to us,” said Giraldo, who assisted on Sidiki Fofana’s goal in the loss to Council Rock North. “It means everything you did was worth it. When you win together as a team, it makes all the hard work you put in, both individually and as a team, worth it.”
Giraldo had to work harder than others this year because he suffered a nagging injury that cost him six regular season games.
To make matters worse, his first game back was the Vikings’ only loss in Public League play.
“I hurt my ankle in a game and I tried to play through it, I think that made it worse, so I couldn’t play for a while,” said Giraldo, who scored four goals on the season. “When I got back, I didn’t feel great. I was out of shape. You can’t stay in shape when you’re not playing.
“Then we lost the first game, and I felt really bad. I hated not playing because even though we were winning, I felt like I could do things to help us. Then when I get back and we lose, I was a little upset.”
The loss was disappointing, but the aftermath wasn’t.
Northeast ran the table after that loss, and after the setback the team regained the focus needed for a Public League championship run, according to Giraldo.
“They say you can have a good loss and that’s what that was,” Giraldo said. “I don’t know why, but we weren’t playing well as a team. After that, I think we got more focused. We saw what we needed to do. We really wanted to go out with a championship. It was really important to everyone, but the captains really wanted to win. I’m one of them, and we didn’t want to end the season without a title.”
Francisco Correia and Sebastian Gimeno, the other captains on the team, now have three championships, but this was Giraldo’s second.
Though he wanted to play his sophomore year, he was unable to attend camp because he was visiting his mother in Florida.
The reason he didn’t even attempt to play is what made him such a valuable leader on the Northeast team.
“I didn’t even try to come out because I knew that I missed camp and I don’t think coach (Kraig) Feldman would have let me, but that’s not the reason I didn’t,” said Giraldo, who lives within walking distance to the school. “I don’t think it would have been fair to come out for the team when everyone else had been working hard. I was in Florida, while they were running for two weeks. They put in the work, and I didn’t.
“I would have come in out of shape, and those guys worked hard. Instead, I played soccer on my own and tried to get better. I worked hard and came out for the team as a junior in great shape. I think it helped me, and it was fair. Plus, coach Feldman wouldn’t have let me play and that’s why he’s such a good coach.”
Now that his career at Northeast is over, Giraldo is turning his attention to the future, which he hopes includes a stint playing college soccer. He’s currently eyeing Temple and Holy Family, among others.
But no matter where the future takes him, he’ll always proudly walk around with the championship jackets he earned while playing for Northeast.
Even if the weather doesn’t cooperate.
“I’m going back (to Florida) and I’ll wear my jacket,” Giraldo said. “On my way to the game, I called my mom, and after I couldn’t wait to tell her we won. Both my mom and dad are very supportive. And they were just as happy when I won.”