Towson has been one of the better soccer teams in Baltimore County the past three seasons, and forward Wils Alpern is a big reason. The senior has led the team in scoring the past two seasons and was an integral part of the 2005 Class 3A co-champions. He scored Towson's goal in a 1-1 tie against River Hill to give the Generals a share of the crown.
Alpern has been kicking soccer balls since he was 4 years old and along with leading Towson, he has helped his Howard County club team, the Soccer Association of Columbia, to titles the past two years.
Off the field, Alpern holds a 3.7 grade point average and has an internship involving photography and environmental science. He is enrolled in Advanced Placement classes and considering colleges such as Georgetown, UMBC, Towson and North Carolina-Wilmington. He wants to play soccer in college.
What's your favorite memory of playing soccer?
My sophomore year here at Towson when we became state champs, because we didn't have the greatest season but in the postseason we came together as a team and we clicked. It was like a dream of mine to play in the state championship game. I didn't even really care about winning. Even though we didn't win, and we tied, that was a dream come true, and that was probably the happiest day of my life.
What was it like scoring your team's lone goal on a penalty shot?
I was pretty ecstatic. I mean my PK wasn't very good, to be honest, but it went in, so that's all that matters. I was just so excited because it was a dream of mine to score a goal in front of probably the largest crowd of my life because I like playing in front of a lot of people. So scoring that goal in front of all those people was just amazing.
Your brother Jenner won a state championship at Towson in 2003. What kind of conversations do you guys have?
Well, it's usually brotherly rivalry, and you always try to outdo one another, but in the end it's just more support for each other because now he's playing in college (Clark University), so I like to stay filled [in] with how he's doing up there and he likes to stay filled in with not just me, but the Towson program in general because it was a big part of his life.
Who won the brotherly soccer battles?
He always beat me, just mainly because he was bigger and more physical, but I was always right there. It was pretty even and competitive actually, but he always beat me.
What was your reaction to being named second-team All-Metro last season?
I was surprised, to be honest. I wasn't expecting to make [All-Metro], but it sounded like a lot of coaches supported me and it makes me realize that other people see me as a good player. When I made it, I was very proud and was excited because it's a pretty good accomplishment, I'd say.
How has it changed for you this year, with everyone knowing what you're capable of?
I know that if I can get the ball on my feet, I can do a lot of stuff like dish it off and take on defenders. It doesn't scare me too much that they might pay a little bit more attention to me than the other players. But it also gets frustrating when the only time I get touches on the ball, I have two or three defenders on me and I get fouled. So it's a challenge that I look forward to, but at the same time, it's a little frustrating.
After getting to the playoffs the past two years, what's your mind-set this year?
Well, the playoffs are kind of our time. We know what's at stake during the playoffs. We know that we have to bring it. It's single elimination, so we can't lose. It'll be my last season going to the playoffs, and we all realize that we have a reputation to carry.
How does club soccer compare with high school?
Club's different. High school is more rough and a little more smash-mouth where you're just trying to get goals and there's less skill. In club, there's more skill and it's a different game. The thing about high school is there's more emotion in high school. There's more pride for your team.
You're in the jazz band in school, too, right?
Yeah, I play saxophone. The first three years, I played alto, and then I switched to tenor. What do you like most about it?
I'm a big fan of music, so I like listening to it and making it. In jazz you get to improvise, so there's freedom and expression that you don't get in everything. You actually can connect it to soccer in some ways because of the freedom and how you think and how you create.
What kind of music do you listen to before a game?
Last year in the playoffs, I listened to a lot of Steve Wonder before games for some reason. And War, I listened to a couple of their songs. I like a lot of bass and just kind of funky rhythms and stuff. Who do you look up to on the soccer field?