WALLKILL – Frankie Palumbo deflected the topic of his individual accolades and steered the conversation to Wallkill soccer’s fast start.
Wallkill celebrated its sixth win in six games with a one-goal victory over New Paltz on Monday. Palumbo watched precious seconds tick off the clock as he shielded defenders from the ball near the corner flag.
When coaches speak of Palumbo’s talents, they use smart, humble and poised to describe the Wallkill senior and four-year starter. One of the area’s top scorers is also the most unheralded. He isn’t one to crave attention. Palumbo simply wants to outwork his opponent.
“I tend to keep to myself,” said Palumbo, who splits his time between striker and attacking midfielder. “All of the seniors and even all of the younger players, we just want to win. We work hard for it.”
Though he might not admit it, Palumbo has played a vital role in Wallkill’s undefeated run. He has scored six times, including two two-goal games, and had one of the best moments of his decorated career against Cornwall on Sept. 7. Palumbo waited for a gap in Cornwall’s defense as Wallkill goalie Cole Popowick punted the ball. Palumbo rushed through a seam as Anthony Pozza flicked the punt and beat the keeper in overtime.
Palumbo waved his hands in the air and sprinted to the bench, where a dogpile followed. Palumbo’s heroics gave Wallkill a rare 1-0 win over Cornwall.
“We lost to Wallkill and he broke through and honestly part of me was happy because he's showed emotions,” said Cornwall coach Matt Quick, who is also an instructor for Palumbo’s club team Cedar Stars. “He's not an emotional guy. He's a lunch-box type of kid.
“He's very good. He actually doesn't get enough credit. He's not flashy. He's just a worker. He's very quiet and goes about his business.”
A successful club player, Palumbo bought into first-year coach Kelly Wood’s team-first philosophy from the start this season. Wins are the most important statistics for Palumbo.
“He is so poised that I think he has a calming effect on the younger guys,” Wood said. “In tight situations, they see him so relaxed that they don't overplay their spots and it's huge for the rest of the team.”
Palumbo has impacted Wallkill’s program since his freshman season. He broke a scoreless tie with a volley from 25 yards out in Wallkill’s 2-0 victory over Rhinebeck in the 2016 Mid-Hudson Athletic League final. Capturing the school’s next MHAL title is the No. 1 goal for Palumbo and his teammates this season.
“We have a solid team throughout (Wallkill’s roster),” Palumbo said. “We have guys coming off the bench who are really good.
“This year in Class A, I think every team is good. You really have to play tough every game and look to work hard.”