Varsity Boys’ Soccer Team Wins Conference Tournament
The Chelsea varsity soccer team entered the week with a similar spirit to last year’s team. The young team, led by lone senior Santiago Pardo, had played a difficult schedule (seven DAC Division I opponent) with a 9-6-3 overall record. The team had battled injuries all season, emerging with a tight roster of fourteen players. The odds were against the young men, especially if the team advanced to the final at Wakefield Country Day School. Much like last year, they put their trust in each other, and, under the guidance of Our Lady, Lightning of Lepanto, embraced the challenge of the week.
The semi-final against Tandem Friends proved to be a real test. Tandem packed their defense and made it very hard to get chances. An early defensive mistake gave Tandem a penalty kick. Junior goal keeper Max Nicholson ably saved the kick, and Chelsea’s possession oriented attack began to flow. Despite creating numerous chances, the team was unable to score until John Paul Tsakanikas and Benedict Siegel executed a short corner kick to perfection. Benedict found Santiago near the far post, and Santiago headed the ball into the net. With a one goal lead, Chelsea continued to create chances but was unable to add to the score. The defense, led by Michael Townsend and Greg Buono, kept the lead and the team advanced to the final.
Having not played well in either of the two regular season games against Wakefield Country Day, the team had much to prove in the final. Our pregame talk concentrated on what has become the major theme of the season, namely having each player focus on performing his role on the team. If we could keep our aim on unselfish team play and impose our style of play on the game and the difficult playing surface, the team could have success.
The final started at a frantic pace. Wakefield pressed high and played balls directly over the top whenever they could. Michael, Greg, and Isaiah Sauer dealt with these threats and built up possession through John Paul and Jimmy Lee in the midfield. Wakefield counter attacked and scored the opening goal against the run of play. In true Chelsea fashion, heads stayed up and the team battled on creating several opportunities. Shortly after half time, David Foeckler set Santiago up for a precise toe poke finish, and the game was tied. The team began to have success on the wings with Collin Campbell, Ian Schwartz, Tony Peng, and Isaiah. Tommy Min’s and Tony’s defending allowed Isaiah to get forward and earn a penalty kick. Benedict smashed the kick into the bar and over the line, and we led for the first time 2-1. Running onto a great pass from John Paul, Ian finished off the scoring with an emphatic goal which sealed the victory.
Winning our second consecutive DAC D2 Championship is quite different from winning our first last year. Without the dominant players we have had in the past, the team has had to rely heavily on our program’s virtues of industry and humility. Players have worked hard and become members of a very solid team by subordinating personal glory to the success of the team. This selfless dedication to our band of brothers exemplifies the second part of our program motto, “The strength of the wolf is the pack.” I am extremely proud of the character of this young team. Finally, I awoke the morning after the final with a song in my head, as I often do. “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” definitely put the week in proper perspective. (Harold Siegel, Varsity Coach)