Kings of the WPIAL

Boys Soccer Overcomes GCC in 3-1 Victory to Claim WPIAL Title


Dr. Daboo

The players return their coaches after a statement win in the finals

On Friday, Winchester’s boys soccer team stepped off the bus as the #2 seed and returned #1. Second-half goals from Alex Hauskrecht, Jordan Poller-Prince, and Tomer Tuti carried WT past the Greensburg Central Catholic Centurions for their second WPIAL title in seven years.

Winchester entered the finals 18-0-1, having scored 102 goals on the season to opponents’ 6. Their one tie, a penalty shootout against 4A Pine-Richland two months ago, had also ended in a win. The Bears easily managed a perfect record in section play and entered the tournament as the #2 seed behind Greensburg Central Catholic. The path to Highmark Stadium involved a 5-0 victory over #15 Jeanette, a 4-1 win against #7 Riverside, and a 4-0 triumph over #11 Riverside to earn a spot at Friday’s game.

GCC, on the other hand, had a much more difficult time getting to Highmark. After a win against #16 Chartiers-Houston, leading scorer Mason Fabean took a red card while playing #8 Springdale, and the Centurions found themselves down 5-2 against a strong #5 Eden Christian team that had handed them a loss earlier in the season. Late goals and an overtime effort sent the fatigued team past Eden, but imperfections were visible in what had seemed, on paper, like a dominant Centurions team. 

Our mentality was to win, and win at all costs. Whatever it takes.

— Oliver Daboo

The finals did not begin well for the Bears. GCC attempted to replicate past success by, after scoring an early goal, changing their tactics to play more conservatively. Centurion’s leading scorer Mason Fabean was sent to the back line to protect GCC’s net, and the game began to look like the 2019 WPALs finale, which had not ended well for Winchester. Other than a header that bounced off the post twice before rolling out, the boys found few inroads through the fortified GCC defense in the first half. WT would need to stay focused.

“Our mentality was to win, and win at all costs. Whatever it takes,” said junior and team captain Oliver Daboo.

The Bears turned up the heat in the second half, taking shots early and often to attempt to get on the scoreboard. The moment finally came when Alex Hauskretcht sent in a corner kick which bounced into the back of the net to even up the score with twenty minutes left. A rebound off Oliver Daboo’s breakaway gave Jordan Poller-Prince a chance to take the lead with nine left to play, and Tomer Tuti wove through the Centurions’ defense to put the game away as the clock winded down.

“It feels amazing, really,” Daboo remarked. “It’s hard to describe with the losses the past two years, and being down 1-0 today and to come back to win 3-1, it’s just amazing. The boys were fantastic tonight.”

“Although it was one of the games where we got scored on, I think the second that we letting it go they had no more chances,” said captain Massi Memoli. “They might’ve had one or two more shots on target, but I’m sure if you asked Otto Graham he wasn’t scared on any of them. Carlo Dennis had a frustrating game which he expressed it to me, how he just couldn’t turn. Mason Fabian who was their leading scorer had one shot the entire game which was a header that bounced to Otto. I think we did a very good job of locking them down—their one goal was a deflection—and we just showed up when it mattered.”

Friday was the first time since 2017 that either team managed a multi-goal playoff win against the other. It was the final shot at a WPIAL title for Winchester’s five starting seniors— Massi Memoli, Lance Nichols, Grant Robinson, Dan Myers, and Otto Graham— who had been denied the trophy by GCC the past two years. 

“It meant even more that it came against GCC because of our history with them the past two years. It makes it extra sweet,” Daboo chimed in.

The final whistle marked GCC’s second disappointment of three that night, as the girls team fell to Steel Valley in a 2-1 overtime loss hours before, and the football team was knocked out of the playoffs in a 28-8 defeat against OLSH hours later.

“Hershey becomes the most important thing,” commented Daboo. “We can celebrate this championship now, but we still have another one to win. Come Tuesday, we’ll be ready to fight for four more wins.”

“Zero goals for our opponents in the state bracket. You heard it here first. Zero,” Memoli added.

The 2021 boys join the 2014 squad as the only Winchester teams to win at Highmark. The team will look to avenge their 2019 state finals loss by once again embarking on the road to Hershey in the coming weeks.