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Anne Photograp News 2024

Melanie Galindo, East Aurora forces tie with Fenton
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Melanie Galindo, East Aurora forces tie with Fenton

Melanie Galindo, who describes herself as a nerd, plans to study biology at Northwestern.

The senior midfielder understands that time is no longer on her side when it comes to high school football. It’s the final days of the regular season and she has no plans to play in college.

“You can feel the countdown,” Galindo said. “I know every second counts and I want to give the team a push. I know that when we are in such trouble, the emotion comes out and so does the effort.

“The goals come from that effort.”

Especially these kinds of goals. Galindo scored in dramatic fashion in the 74th minute Tuesday night to pull the Tomcats into a 2-2 Upstate Eight Conference tie against Fenton in Bensenville.

Sophomore midfielder Nicole Olivo converted in the 41st minute for East Aurora (6-9-2, 2-5-1).

Galindo got her inspiration from watching a Champions League match earlier in the day.

“Sometimes during a game there are moments where you flash back to something you’re seeing,” Galindo said. “During the match I was watching, there was a shot from a player.

“For some reason that just came to my mind when I saw the ball there.”

East Aurora's Melanie Galindo (2) tries to get the ball in the second half of a game against Fenton High School in Bensenville on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (Nate Swanson/for Beacon News)
East Aurora’s Melanie Galindo (2) shoots the ball in the second half against Fenton during an Upstate Eight Conference game in Bensenville on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (Nate Swanson / The Beacon News)

Galindo is a study in contrasts. Off the field, she is quiet, studious and scholarly, but outgoing and assertive as a two-year captain of the Tomcats.

“I like to express myself in the way I play,” she said. “You can hear me all the time when I play.

“I really like to shout. The rest of the team knows my words sound a bit harsh, but it’s about helping and pushing my team, and we understand each other.

Olivo called Galindo the ultimate role model and mentor.

“I really look up to her,” Olivo said. “Not just because she is older than me and the captain, I want to learn from her because she has so much experience.

“She shows her emotions, but she always makes it very important that the team always comes first. I understand that she always wants to make the team better.”

The East Aurora Tomcats hug Nicole Olivo (22) after scoring their first goal during a game against Fenton High School in Bensenville on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (Nate Swanson/for the Beacon News)
Nicole Olivo (22) is hugged by her East Aurora teammates after scoring the first goal against Fenton during an Upstate Eight Conference game in Bensenville on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (Nate Swanson / The Beacon News)

East Aurora coach Jorge Rios said Galindo’s playing style is based on a deeper approach.

“The way she plays, that strong character she has, I think she has that same enthusiasm for life,” Rios said. “She is the pride and joy of our program.

“Part of the reason she is captain is her natural leadership and the way she puts the team first. Whatever success we have had this season is thanks to her.”

Galindo took up soccer as a physical outlet sparking a competitive flare by competing against her older brother Brian in the family’s backyard.

Her interest began as a freshman, when she was immediately elevated to the varsity.

“I didn’t know many people and it was right after the pandemic, so everything was still a bit remote,” she said. “I like to learn. I listened, watched and let my teammates guide me.

“I learned to play from all different people. I tried to take that knowledge and pass it on to my other teammates.”

East Aurora's Melanie Galindo (2) bounces the ball off her knee during a game against Fenton High School in Bensenville on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (Nate Swanson/for the Beacon News)
East Aurora’s Melanie Galindo (2) tries to control the ball from her knee against Fenton during an Upstate Eight Conference game in Bensenville on Tuesday, May 7, 2024. (Nate Swanson / The Beacon News)

Galindo has been a model of versatility and consistency for East Aurora. At the beginning of her career, she played as an outside defender. As a sophomore, she moved to midfield.

Lately she has been switching between playing in the middle of attack and forward. She occasionally shows a fun and less serious side, which is evident from her fascination with TikTok videos.

Knowledge is her main goal and she wants to pursue a career in the medical field.

“Learning is my hobby,” Galindo said. “I like reading and keeping myself informed. Some people might find that a bit strange. That is the fashion that I have developed and that has taken me places.”

Patrick Z. McGavin is a freelance reporter for The Beacon-News.