Weston boys soccer heading to tourney
November 8, 2017
On a rainy Thursday night with low visibility, the Weston boys varsity soccer team defeated the defending Wayland state champions, breaking a 23-game winning streak dating back to last season.
For the past two years, Wayland has captured the MIAA Division 3 State Championship title. This season, Weston was looking to upset the returning victors in their second encounter on Oct. 26.
On Oct. 3, Weston blew a 2-0 lead, ultimately losing to Wayland 3-2 after Wayland senior captain Mike Jones’s hat-trick left the ’Cats in the dust. The loss was a learning experience for the entire team, as Weston understood Wayland’s strategy so they could better prepare themselves for the upcoming reunion game.
“After our first game against Wayland, we knew that we could defeat this team which gave us so much confidence coming into senior night,” senior Max Zawel said.
The Weston boys varsity soccer team did more than light up the field on Senior Night at Regis College. They showed the spectators the value of teamwork, tenacity and their athletic prowess.
Before the game that determined the fate of Weston’s postseason play, the pressure was on for the ’Cats to beat Wayland in order to qualify for the Division 3 tournament.
In preparation for the big game, the Weston boys varsity soccer team studied Wayland’s game film to identify key players, set plays and formations.
“It was a very important game for us because we needed to get at least one point (one for tie, two for a win) from our last two games of the season in order to qualify for the post-season tournament and we didn’t want to leave it to the last game at Mystic Valley,” assistant coach Moncrieff Cochran said.
“The game was just hyped up knowing that we would clinch playoffs if we got a point off them,” said senior assistant captain Cameron Schluter. “We knew this would be a big game with a big crowd and we had to put on a show.”
For the Senior Night game, head coach Andrey Asparouhov started all 11 seniors along with juniors Andres Castillo-Lares and Eddie Pomianek.
“From the first whistle you could tell that we were in control of the game,” junior center striker Brian Hall said. As a result of the different formation, Zawel scored the first goal of the night within 10 minutes.
According to senior assistant captain Noah Hooper, Wayland played its typical game plan against the ’Cats, attacking the ball and sending it through Weston’s defense, while consistently scoring in the final minutes of the game.
“Being up 4-0 rather than 2-0 gave enough of a cushion for us to close the game out,” Osborn said. Weston’s strong lead prevented Wayland from making a full comeback to tie or win the game this time.
Cochran said the key to the game was the pressure Weston athletes put on Wayland from the first minute.
“We did not allow Wayland to move the ball around and put pressure on their defense which caused them to make mistakes,” he said.
According to goalkeeper Pomianek, the most crucial point was when Zawel scored off a free kick from Schluter in the 46th minute of the game.
“This goal solidified our lead and showed that this game would not be a repeat of the last game against Wayland,” Pomianek said.
At this critical moment, the fans’ energy pushed the players to keep on fighting.
“They were rowdy and they were making the referees angry, which you love to see as a player,” senior captain Tom Cochran said. “They are really what allowed us to score and score again.”
Despite some tough final minutes in the game, the ’Cats prevailed to take home their sweetest victory of the season.
“After Wayland clapped back and scored three goals in five minutes, we had to get our minds right and continue fighting because we couldn’t allow any mercy at a time like this,” Schluter said.
Although this is the first time the team has qualified for the tournament since 2014, there are still things that can be improved for the future.
“We need to focus on keeping our composure for the whole duration of the game,” Pomianek said. Freshman right midfielder Nick Ginovker agreed, adding the team needs to keep up the intensity in those crucial final minutes, even when fatigue kicks in.
“We definitely need to improve on finishing off games, especially when we’ve built a lead,” Osborn said.
Coming off of a substantial win, the team plans to build on this momentum, hopefully making a deep run in the state tournament.
“We just won against the defending state champions,” Hooper said. “I think that shows that we have a chance to do something big in tournament.”
Finishing the regular season off with a record of 8-5-5 and beating Wayland confirms the ‘Cats’ confidence that they are capable of making a doing well in the state tournament.
“This year, we will begin the postseason with a home game,” Cochran said. “I think this will be a way for us to gather momentum for the rest of playoffs.”
Though Weston held off the reigning D3 state champions until the very end, winning isn’t the ultimate goal for Cochran and his team.
At the end of the day, confidence and chemistry are the most important characteristics a team can have, Cochran said.
“As a coach, parent and teacher, I am very proud of all our players,” he said. “I could not be more proud of my son, Tom, whom I believe has been not only a great player for Weston, but an outstanding role model and team leader.
“Every player on this team means something to me in their own way, but the seniors, many of whom I coached in the Boston Area Youth Soccer (BAYS League) or taught in history class, will forever hold a very special place in my heart.”
#8 seed Weston lost to #1 seed Wayland in the second round of tournament on November 6th 3-2 in Overtime.