Jose Aleman-Cruz from El Salvador and Edwing Martinez-Galmichi from Mexico have helped the Warriors reach their first state semifinal, where they meet Mercer Island at 4 p.m. Friday at Puyallup’s Sparks Stadium.
Both Jose Aleman-Cruz and Edwing Martinez-Galmichi started their lives far, far away from Edmonds, with different hopes and dreams.
The talented soccer duo is weaving its way into the hearts of the community.
Aleman-Cruz was born in El Salvador and came to the United States about two years ago. Martinez-Galmichi was born in Veracruz, Mexico, and moved to the U.S. five years ago.
The two transplants are in the thick of the chase for adding to the most successful season in the history of Edmonds-Woodway High School’s boys soccer program.
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The Warriors (17-2-2) had never won a state playoff match in three previous trips. They have parlayed a resurgence in both health and work in the classroom for their history-making run and face Mercer Island (17-1-1) in the Class 3A state semifinals on Friday at 4 p.m. at Puyallup’s Sparks Stadium.
“I think we’re playing our best,” Martinez-Galmichi said. “We’ve come together and started working as a team. Everyone wanted to make history for the school. We are a little bit motivated.”
That puts Edmonds-Woodway one victory away from playing for the 3A state title, despite the team enduring player absences with injuries and academics.
“Jose has come on,” said Gilman, whose team has outscored foes 14-2 in five postseason games. “He was the leading vote-getter among all WesCo (3A) midfielders last year. His shot has been off for a while with his (sore left) knee. But even with that, he been doing all the little things, playing defense, hitting crosses and laying off balls.
“He’s an impact player for us, and he’s very fast, very quick.”
With injuries and academic setbacks, Aleman-Cruz and Martinez-Galmichi (calf) have seen action in about half of the team’s 21 games. Aleman-Cruz doesn’t start, but comes on at the 20-minute mark to provide a spark.
“He comes in at that time, because he’s had some grade issues and we don’t start people with grade issues,” said Gilman.
The transition from living in Chalatenango, El Salvador to Edmonds and adjusting to the language barrier has been tough on Aleman-Cruz. But having Martinez-Galmichi as a good friend has helped integrate Aleman-Cruz into the team.
“We’re best friends,” Martinez-Galmichi said. “We’re like brothers. We’re always together. The first year here, he didn’t want to try out, because he didn’t speak English. Me and my other friend who spoke Spanish, told him, ‘You know we’re going to help you. We’re there for you.’
“We translated all the time for him, because he didn’t really understand English. He understands way better now.”
Both players provide speed on the wings, and the left-footed Aleman-Cruz adds creativity. He has nine goals and two assists, but likely would have more if not for getting kicked from behind his left knee just before spring break.
“It’s been one of my dreams to play soccer (professionally),” said Aleman-Cruz, who joined his father Jose Sr. in the U.S. for work while the rest of his family remained in El Salvador. “I thought I would have a greater opportunity to play over here. I love soccer.
“I’m always watching the player, Messi. A lot of people compare me to Messi, but I don’t know about that. I’m just doing my best on the field.”
It turns out Aleman-Cruz’s injury was a deep bruise. Recent weeks of physical therapy have helped ease the pain.
Martinez-Galmichi, who is talking about playing for a Second Division team in his hometown in Mexico along with Aleman-Cruz, has three goals and five assists.
“He’s been an impact player ever since the end of the season,” Gilman said. “The last four games, it’s like the mist is gone and everything has been crystallized.”