When the Evans High School boys soccer team plays host in the opening round of the Region 2-AAAAA Tournament April 15, Josh Baker should be a marked man.
It might not matter if teams pay special attention to the Knights’ senior center-mid, however, as he is having the kind of career year just dreamt about.
Heading into the postseason, Baker, a four-year starter, has led the Knights to a 9-3 mark, scoring 36 goals – including four in a game twice – with 27 assists.
“This is year 14 for me and I’ve had a ton of good kids come through and none of them have had a season like he’s having,” said Evans boys head coach Brian Killips.
“I worked on my shooting a lot in the offseason and I was always pretty good with the ball,” Baker said. “This year I worked on my footwork a lot and my speed and my
Whatever happens the rest of the way, this will be Baker’s last season playing soccer at a varsity level as he’s heading to the University of Georgia, which doesn’t have a men’s soccer team.
“I may play club there but I just don’t really want to play in college, it’s more of a job than fun to me it seems,” said Baker, who will be rooming with best friend and Evans classmate Dillon Keeler. “I kind of got tired of soccer I guess around age 15-16. And now I’m really starting to enjoy it more I guess since I’m about to not be playing anymore. I’m really starting to appreciate it, but it’s not something I’d want to do rather than get a good education.”
And Baker will have a jump on his college credits as he is currently dual-enrolled at Georgia Regents University taking Calculus II after having earned an “A” in calculus.
Baker started playing soccer at the YMCA when he was 4 and has achieved in the sport since then. He made the Olympic Development Team for Georgia for three years, but gave that up his sophomore year.
“I always set my goals high and I was always a competitive player,” Baker said. “I guess once I decided I was going to focus less on soccer and more on studies that (Olympic dream) kind of faded, I guess.”
Killips said he normally has two to three captains, but Baker is the only one he needed for this year. Baker says he sets the pace but everyone keeps up and this team is one of the favorites he’s been on.
“This team this year is really hard-working. not overall the most talented bunch, but very hard-working and with very good attitudes,” Baker said.
While Baker is happy to be giving up soccer, there is one certain aspect he will miss.
“Another fun thing about this team is Luca Castresana and Casey Renn and Adam Hamilton and me, four starters, have been best friends since we were very young,” Baker said. “We’ve always grown up together. That’s another thing I’ll miss about it. Playing with my friends.”