The Chocolate Factory

Boys Soccer Hammers Home a Win in the PIAA 1A Boys Soccer Championship

The+Chocolate+Factory

Jack Anderson-Jussen, Staff Writer

It was a brisk 40-degree morning in Hershey PA, and a sense of determination was in the air. As the Bears stepped off the bus to enter Hershey Park Stadium, they had a fire in their eyes. They wanted that trophy. This was the game that they had been preparing all year for. After a decisive victory over Greensburg Central Catholic to win the WPIAL championship, they knew they couldn’t stop there, and with five starting seniors and two coming off the bench, this was the year to win it all. 

The Bears began their state playoff run with their first match against Everett High. Coming into this match, it was a known fact that the Bears couldn’t be stopped. After winning the WPIAL with a big win over rival team GCC, they knew they had to keep the flame burning, and that they did. With a 7-0 victory over Everett, the boys proved that they were on a mission, and this was just the beginning. 

Their second game may have proved to be more of a challenge if not for forwards Junior Alex Hauskrecht and Senior Grant Robinson. Hauskrecht, in his third year with Winchester, proved himself to be a formidable opponent once again, scoring a hat-trick. Senior Grant Robinson, with his fancy footwork, added another hat-trick as well to boast WT over Mercer Area Highschool 7-0.

For the next game, the Bears faced Eden Christian. Eden had proved itself to be a formidable opponent against the Bear’s defense, scoring two goals during regular season play. All the while, the Bears managed to prevail against them during the regular season. In this game, Eden came out swinging, netting a goal in the first 10 minutes of play. Senior transfer Dan Myers responded with a powerful goal to bring the Bears back into it 1-1. Shortly after, Sophomore Tomer Tuti netted a beautiful goal to bring the Bears ahead 2-1 and advance the team to the championship game at Hershey.

Juniors Oliver Daboo and Mert Akdogan celebrate after Oliver’s winning goal

Going into this championship matchup there were many doubts from the team about their ability to prevail against the fierce offense of Faith Christian. From the perspective of the Bears, this Faith Christian team was tough; as the defending state champions, they were the favorites to win this matchup. Additionally, Faith Christian was coming off a triumphant 4-1 victory over 2019 state champions, Moravian Academy.

As the opening whistle sounded and the Bears set into their positions, you could see the heavy breath in the cold air. There was something to prove, after all this would be the Bear’s first state championship for a sport other than cross country. As the time ticked on, Faith Christian was relentless on both ends of the field, locking down on defense and getting four shots on net in the first half; All-Section goalie Senior Otto Graham proved to be one of the “stars of the game,” saving all four. 

After halftime, the Bears brought some intensity that Faith Christian hadn’t seen before on the offensive front. 45 minutes in, Hauskrecht fires a powerful strike at goal which is deflected off the sidebar; Tuti follows it up but once again hits it against the crossbar. While no goal was scored, this moment was what WT needed to spark their ambition. 

Following this moment, the Bears began to lock down the corners, as it was known Faith was a threat from the corners. As the game progressed, both teams continued to battle on the defensive fronts. Senior center-back Massi Memoli stepped up in a big way with a couple of clears to protect his goalie. At the end of regulation, the score remained 0-0, and as the game headed to overtime, the Bears were not ready to give up.

The team celebrates with their trophy and a hard earned chocolate bar

The Bears fought hard throughout extra time, defending against two dangerous corner kicks that put shots on target; Graham once again coming in clutch with big saves. As the time winds down in the first overtime, the Bears were eager to set the score straight, and the pressure was on. As the ball jumbled around in front of the twenty-yard box, Junior Oliver Daboo took matters into his own hands and with a brilliant strike past the Faith keeper, cashed in his golden ticket for a golden goal; and in full Willy Wonka spirit brought home the chocolate bar (and the championship) for Winchester.

The Bears immediately broke into celebration for their hard-fought victory. “My first reaction was of relief,” said Senior keeper Otto Graham, “I hate overtime naturally but as a goalie, it makes it way more stressful. When the ball went in I just wanted to take the moment in”. As the boys embraced each other, cries of joy were shared. When asked what it meant to win as a senior, Otto said “We knew at the beginning of the season we had a special group of seniors, and being able to share this moment with them is incredible”. Not only did the Bears win the game, but they won it together.