WHS boys soccer capture thier 16th state title, a state record, with a 4-1 victory over Fitch at Dillon Stadium in Hartford
It took 40 minutes for the Wethersfield boys’ soccer to warm up, but once they did they played like a championship-bound team.
Senior William McCarter hammered home the game’s only goal in the 64th minute as the Eagles held on to beat Guilford 1-0 last Wednesday (Nov. 17) in the Class L semifinals, reaching the championship game for the first time since 2015.
“We knew they had a great keeper and a solid defense, and we knew it was going to be a battle,” said Wethersfield head coach Rob Jachym, who energized the team at half. “The biggest adjustments were in the back. Our two center backs dropped back, nothing earth shattering, just something high school kids need to be reminded of sometimes.”
Following a scoreless first half, the Eagles began to control the ball and fire consistent shot attempts at Guilford’s brilliant keeper Justin Hess.
In the 64th minute, senior captain Sammy Johnson weaved through a handful of Grizzlies defenders and fired a missile, which Hess rejected back into the field of play before McCarter followed with a blast that found the back of the net.
“We knew their goalie was pretty insane. We knew how good he was and we would have trouble scoring. We were hoping to get a lucky one by,” said McCarter, who added the offense woke up after half. “We realized we needed to change things up and coach gave us a nice pep talk. We just wanted it more.”
Jachym said the offense, led by Johnson and McCarter, dug down deep in the second half, “Sammy is a player that can do something special like that. He’s deceptively quick.”
He added, “Will is a lefty, but he put it in with his right foot. He hit a couple that didn’t go in and it was nice for him to see that one go in.”
The offensive highlight was the after-dinner mint to the four-course meal that the Eagles defense served up.
As they have done all year, goalie Ricky Torres and Christopher Daley took turns manning the net. Torres played the first half and Daley played the final 40 minutes.
Both played valiantly, combining with the guys in front of them to shut down a talented Grizzlies offensive.
Captains Owen Ahmetovic and AJ Contreras, along with outside center backs Connor Swanson and Marco Capasso, led a defensive unit that limited scoring opportunities for a Grizzlies team that had scored three or more goals in ten games this fall.
The semifinal victory lifted the Eagles to the Class L championship game where they soundly defeated Fitch 4-1 on Sunday (Nov. 21) behind to a terrific all-around performance on both ends.
Josh Gstell scored off an assist from McCarter; Thomas Brodowicz netted one on an assist from Johnson; Joey Tata scored off an assist from Brodowicz; and Giankarlos DeJesus put the game on ice with a goal off a penalty kick.
The triumph over Fitch was a fantastic finale for 20 seniors, who banded together over four years to secure a championship celebration at Dillon Stadium in Hartford.
Jachym added that all the seniors had a role, “We don’t keep guys just to keep guys. It’s not just about ability, it’s about the team and some of these guys are good to have around and support the team. The guys have been a great cohesive group. It reminded me of the group we had in ‘04.”
Jachym’s 2004 team also won a championship, as did his 2008 team. All told, it was Wethersfield 16th state title, a state record.
This season’s team battled through a difficult regular season schedule, finishing 10-3-1, entering the tournament as the #13-seed before ousting Torrington (6-0) in the opening round, Woodstock (4-0) in round two, and then eliminating Notre Dame-West Haven (2-0) in the quarterfinals.
McCarter said the senior’s swan song has been amazing, adding “We’ve been dreaming about this since we started playing. To see everything that we’ve dreamed about come true is unreal. It’s the best feeling.”
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Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin