MS Soccer ends great season

10/17/13  The middle school soccer team won an absorbing semifinal at Fresta Valley on Thursday to book a place in the VMSC final against WCDS. An outstanding team performance lead to a 2-0 victory with Ryan Latham '18 picking up the ball on the right wing just inside the Fresta half, jinxing out the right back and driving into the area to fire home an unstoppable shot past the keeper. The goal was nothing less than the Jackets had deserved after their first half dominance. Coming on the stroke of half time, the goal allowed us to go into the break with a 1-0 first half lead.

Fresta pushed hard at the start of the second half but the Jackets absorbed the pressure and started to reasserting their control, with Jordan Walendon '19 clipping home a second goal from close range. After that Fresta continued to try to get back into the game but Cailin Baggett '18 put in a "man of the match" performance in goal to keep a clean sheet and send the Jackets into the final. Having lost 5-1 to Fresta in the first game of the regular season before we had even started to form the team, this game showed how far we had come in beating a team loaded with travel players.

Now we have the chance to scrap it out again as underdogs against WCDS who are also not short of travel players. Whatever the result, this has been a great season with enormous improvement and a fairy tale finish to the season with a tournament final. This is middle school soccer at its best.

10/18/13  The Jackets capped of a glorious end to the season by bringing home the runners-up trophy for the VMSC after a hard fought 2-1 loss to undefeated regular season champions WCDS. After conceding an early goal from a well-taken free kick, the Jackets fought back to equalize after a fast break with a clinical finish from top scorer Filippo Bandera '18 to end the half level. It was a tough first half after a draining win over Fresta the previous day.

However, the Jackets came out strong in the second half only for WCDS to take the lead again after a second goal of the game from their top player who managed to get a shot off despite being tightly contained. Cailen Baggett '18 had another absolutely outstanding game at keeper with the save of the game a few minutes later, parrying a shot and then scrambling to his feet to claw it off the goal line. The Jackets then took the game to WCDS for the last 10 minutes where they threw everything at the goal. The WCDS keeper was the difference in the end, blocking a number of goal-bound shots as WCDS held on in a game that could have gone either way.

This Jackets team may have more team chemistry and character than any team I have coached and they recognized that to play such a great final against an unbeaten team and push them so close is something to celebrate. The best two teams in the VMSC stood side-by-side on the sidelines after the game as the trophies were presented, having shared in a final all the players will remember fondly for years to come. Maybe the crowning glory was when the players rushed into the dorm with music blaring on their return to campus to show off their hard-won trophy. 

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