Playing soccer since he was 4 Bailey excelled as Dutchmen goalie Now he saves the day with grit for the Division II Fighting Saints

Playing soccer since he was 4, Bailey excelled as Dutchmen goalie,
Now he saves the day with grit for the Division II Fighting Saints

By Jordan J. Michael

GUILDERLAND –– Devin Bailey went to the College of Saint Joseph in Rutland, Vt. to pursue a career in criminal justice. He also ended up reigniting his career as a highly skilled goalkeeper in the sport of soccer.

Bailey, a 2010 Guilderland High School graduate who was a top player for the Dutchmen team that went undefeated and won a Class AA title in 2008, didn’t necessarily have any intentions of playing soccer for the Fighting Saints this past fall.

“I went to Saint Joseph because I heard its criminal justice program was real good,” said Bailey, who was tired and sore on Tuesday afternoon after shoveling and plowing snow for almost 24 hours for his father’s landscaping business. “The soccer coach contacted me and I decided to work out and play.”

Ray Fish, the new coach for the Fighting Saints, had seen Bailey play in a few college showcases. Bailey hadn’t saved a ball, or even seen a shot since his last game with the Dutch in 2009.

“I just started punting the ball again after all that time,” Bailey said. “Coach Fish never really told me what he liked about me, so I just went out there and played.”

Bailey, the freshman newcomer, did more than just play goalie –– he excelled. After the season, he was named to the Sunrise Conference All-Conference team after leading the league in saves (156) and saves per game (10.4).

“I didn’t expect to do this well or anything like that,” said Bailey. “I just wanted to play and have fun, which I did, but we lost some games.”

Saint Joseph, a Division II program, finished 3-11-1, but Bailey kept himself busy, seeing close to 20 shots every game. The entire roster was made up of freshmen, except for one senior.

“A bunch of guys graduated from the year before, so the team picked up all of us young kids,” Bailey said. “There were some older guys that started the season with us, but eventually they started to not show up. They said goodbye.”

Bailey, who was used to playing in the very competitive Suburban Council with Guilderland, told The Enterprise that some of the Sunrise Conference teams were “mediocre.”

“You could lose to any Suburban team on any day,” he said of his Guilderland experience. “In the Sunrise, you would only lose to a few teams.”

The Fighting Saints’ loss column was far busier than its win column, but the team was tremendously young. Bailey was a large part of the three wins the team did have.

“We didn’t create much offense, but always tried to win,” said Bailey. “I was used to having a lot of really great players in front of me, like a completely filled out team. That really wasn’t the case in college.”

Scanning the field

Bailey is studying criminal justice as he prepares himself to become a police officer. His interest in police work came from his uncle, who is a man of the law himself.

“Some of my friends ask, ‘So, you want to be a pig?’ or whatever, pick on me a little bit,” Bailey said. “I’ll definitely be giving those guys a ticket.”

Being in Vermont, Bailey picked up skiing, saying, “It’s all right, not particularly exciting, but it’s something else to do.” He also played some paintball in the woods.

“Saint Joseph is always throwing something; things are going on,” Bailey said. “It’s a small school, but it’s spread out enough to wander. There are ponds, landscapes, and nice stuff like that. They have this mansion that gets federal aid; it’s some kind of landmark.”

Focusing on soccer, Bailey detailed his best save for the Fighting Saints, which came in a game against the University of Maine at Fort Kent: “This player came running down the sideline and he served the ball all the way across the field to the other side. His teammate received the ball at the top of the box with his chest and then fired a shot far post. Somehow I saved it and I had like 20 saves in that game.”

Bailey said that the best overall game of his career came at Shenendehowa in 2009, which the Dutchmen won, 1 to 0, in overtime. “We easily could have lost, 4 to 0, but I wasn’t going to allow that,” he said.

Looking back on the 2008 season at Guilderland, Bailey believes that the team could have won a state title if some players didn’t end up going down with injuries. Key players were injured for the regional match against Baldwinsville, a game the Dutch lost, 1 to 0.

“Sometimes people ask me about those times and I tell them that it was fun,” Bailey said. “We had everything we wanted, but we were wearing down towards the end. I had a sore knee for the whole season, but played anyways.”

Bailey told The Enterprise that he still talks to a few Guilderland teammates. “There’s a group that hangs out,” he said. “I think Sahr Nyuma went back to Africa to play soccer. But, that’s just what I heard.”

“More control”

Soccer entered Bailey’s life when he was four years old and he found himself on the goal line when he was 10. Being a goalkeeper gave Bailey a better perspective.

“I felt like I had more control and I enjoyed it more than running around,” Bailey said. “You get to be a little rougher in there and I’ve been knocked out a few times. You go up high and down low for the ball, so getting hurt is a possibility. I just go for the ball and don’t care if I hit anyone or not.”

Bailey’s favorite professional soccer (or Futbol in Europe) team is Chelsea of the Barclay’s Premier League. His favorite player is Frank Lampard, who plays midfield for Chelsea.

Soccer games often have low score, so goaltending is of colossal importance.

“In soccer, you can tell whose fault it is during a close game, say 0 to 0,” said Bailey. “It’s the goalie’s fault unless the defense breaks down. I never really feel guilty for letting a goal in because I’m so busy getting shot at all the time. Whenever I make a good save, we have a chance to win.”

The way it looks, Bailey will keep playing in goal for Saint Joseph. “Coach Fish says that he’s getting some recruits,” he said. “We just have to build and see where it goes.”

No doubt, Bailey will be guarding the goal tightly.

“I just enjoy being out there and playing,” he said. “What else can I say?”

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