By Stephanie Shih, Sports Editor
March 16, 2019
The varsity boys' soccer team started off their spring break right on Senior Night with a triumph over Cedar Ridge on Friday, March 15, conquering the Raiders with a score of 4-1. With this win, the Warriors claimed the top spot as District Champions, a title the program hasn't held since 2003. Leading the team onto the scoreboard, scoring all four goals, was junior Theo Givens whose skillful footwork and lightning speed proved to be overpowering for the Raiders. The Warriors' defense was also stronger than ever, with Avi Kacker '19, West Bevins '20, Philip Richardson '20, and Sam Helwig '19 all working together to back up the team and keep the ball in the Warriors' possession.
"I'm really excited; it was awesome having everyone out here and having the whole team put in a shift tonight, best shift we've seen from our team. A 4-1 against a really good team is something incredible, I'm really proud of them," Kacker said.
The first half opened with a Cedar Ridge player receiving a yellow card, and Richardson also being given a yellow card. Although goalie Justin Lang '20 blocked most of the Raiders' shots from passing the goal line, a Cedar Ridge player was given a penalty shot that Lang couldn't get a hand on, putting the score at 1-0. However, Givens and the Warrior midfield fought back and Givens was able to eventually tap the ball into the Raiders' goal to tie up the score at 1-1. The Raiders were able to attempt a few more shots, but all were stopped by Lang. Givens was presented with an opportunity that he couldn't pass up; he tapped the ball into the goal once again, putting the Warriors in front, 2-1.
"During halftime, I was just telling myself, 'We need to score another one because two is not enough'," Givens said.
Givens turned his thoughts into actions. Early on in the second half, Givens was able to convert his two goals to a hat trick, scoring from outside of the box to give the Warriors a solid lead of 3-1. The Warriors were able to get the ball down the field so that Niko Harris '20 could take a shot, but he wasn't able to put it in the back of the net. Anthony Bibbo '20 also got off two shots, but the Raiders' goalie persisted, and didn't allow the ball in the goal. On the other side of the field, Kacker and Helwig sprinted up and down the sideline, outrunning the Cedar Ridge strikers and keeping the ball in the Warriors' possession. With 14 minutes and 17 seconds left in the game, Harris sprinted down the midfield, and passed the ball to Felipe Centeno '19 who then took a shot at the goal, but was unable to convert it into a point. Givens once again proved his ball handling skills by pressing through the Cedar Ridge defense to take the ball all the way down the sideline and score, sending both the crowd and the team into a frenzy. The Warriors were now ahead by a wide margin of 4-1. Despite more shots taken by Harris and John Mock '20, and saves by goalie Luke Parks '20, neither of the teams could add to the scoreboard, and the game ended with the Warriors clinching the title of District Champions as well as cementing their place in the state playoffs.
"It just shows you, we went down in a game where Cedar Ridge had to win in order to try to make playoffs, and we went down, we fought back, we kept on pushing," Head Coach Stefano Salerno said. "The guys kept going, they don't stop, and this group is phenomenal. We've been waiting for this since 2003, and they deserve it. I told the seniors, you know, you only get to work with each other for one year, so you have to make things happen this year."
The game concludes the Warriors' regular season, and launches them into the playoffs, where they will have to win six games in order to reach the State Championships.