For three years, Nate Sandin started at center midfield for the Toll Gate boys’ soccer team, and for three years his teams came up short of a postseason bid.
In his senior year, though, Sandin – and his team – got over the hump.
After a decade-long playoff drought, Toll Gate returned to the playoffs this past fall, with Sandin as its top performer. He scored nine goals and added 13 assists from his spot in the center, leading the Titans to a 7-6-3 record.
“First time as Toll Gate we’ve made the playoffs as 10 years, and he was a big factor as to why that happened,” Toll Gate head coach Tim Hayes said. “He was a big reason on the field, a big reason off the field.”
Sandin served as one of the team’s captains – along with his cousin, John Crowley – and those two formed the nucleus for a team that realized it was on the verge of something special and didn’t waste it.
As they really began to win, everybody began to believe.
“We started winning games, and the next thing you know we thought we could actually make something of this,” Sandin said.
Hayes thought the team had a chance from the beginning, but he knew Sandin would have to be one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle.
Hayes saw the skill in Sandin during his first two years as the team struggled in Division I, then saw him progress into a bigger, stronger player during his junior year with the team in Division II.
Senior year, he put it all together.
“He makes so many players around him better,” Hayes said. “More players are able to get goals, he can draw two or three guys to him and then find the right pass. When he’s doing those kind of things and doing that kind of dirty work, we were a dangerous team.”
And that was the recipe for a special season.
Sandin is keeping his options open for the future, but he wants soccer to be still be a part of it. He’s considering going to CCRI and potentially playing for the Knights, or joining the Air Force and getting involved in a soccer program offered there.