The Rowland Hall soccer team’s right back defender is tenacious. He will chase down any ball. He’s consistent and always seems to be where he needs to be.
The same can be said for Rowland Hall’s left back. Take another look, and it’s not just their styles of play that are similar. In fact, from head to ankle they look an awful lot alike — except for the cleats.
Andy and John Gilbert, senior defenders for the Winged Lions, have taken being identical twins to a new level by providing twin defense on opposite sidelines. Andy is injured right now with a fractured ankle, but he’ll be back soon to return Rowland Hall’s backline to its elevated state of harmony.
“I don’t really think it’s telepathy,” laughs John.
But there is no sense trying to ignore how well the duo works together. They know what will happen next whenever the ball is at each other’s feet. It’s a result of sharing a room since they were born, running cross-country and playing soccer together for years, and knowing each other as well as they know themselves. To most other people, they are practically the same person.
“[Coach Scott Langone] definitely can’t tell us apart,” Andy snitched about his coach.
That’s where the cleats come in. John wears orange and black shoes, while Andy sports a red, black and white pair. While teammates generally know the Gilberts well enough to keep them straight without clues, the cleats still help out. Coaches take the easy way and just yell “Gilbert!” when they need one of the twins’ attention. Both will come jogging up, hear the instruction and manage to straighten what was meant for whom and carry it out just the way the coach intended.
Opponents do their own double takes. During the cross-country season, a runner from another school crossed the finish line and looked around for Andy, who he was sure had finished just ahead of him. He was right. The competitor turned around in time to see John cross the finish line. “I thought you were ahead of me,” the baffled runner said.
Langone is willing to laugh at the similarities between the two and his propensity to confuse them. “They’re twins, man,” he shrugs. But he knows how serious the duo’s impact on his team is. With those two in place on the back line, Rowland Hall has charged to a 4-1 record in the 2A Central.
Once Andy — who is day to day, according to John — gets back on the field, the Winged Lions will be back at full strength. And that includes their incredibly and biologically synchronized wing defenders.
Big number • 16. Number of strikeouts for Rowland Hall baseball pitcher Scott Silverstein in a 10-2 win over South Summit on April 5. What’s more, he also got a double in the win. Silverstein provided the dominant pitching that the Winged Lions have thrived off of in recent seasons. He was the team’s ace last season and is proving to be a force again as a junior.
Big player • Carlos Sanchez, West soccer. The Panthers got things straightened out after losing four of five. West won 4-0 over Kearns on April 10 and 2-1 over Viewmont on Friday. Sanchez scored twice in each game and continued to prove that his move from defender to attacker has been a good one.
Big game • East at Highland boys’ soccer, Friday, 3:30 p.m. Two rivals meet at opposite ends of the Region 6 spectrum. But don’t think the Rams won’t be ready to spill surprise all over East’s season. Highland kicked a six-game losing streak with a win over Cyprus that injected life back into their season. A win over East would really get things moving.