Varsity soccer clinches championship
The Block Island Varsity soccer team hit the Coastal Preparatory League like their namesake Hurricanes. This was a memorable season where the Hurricanes dominated the league with an overall record of seven wins and one tie, where they scored 59 goals while only surrendering two (one on a penalty kick). In the playoffs, they completed their drive with an 8-0 victory over Middlebridge in the semifinal. In the finals, a 7-0 victory over Barrington Christian Academy completed their “Invincible” season.
The championship game began like many high stakes matches with both BCA and the Hurricanes shaking off initial jitters for the big game. In the first 15 minutes both teams made several attacking forays where Block Island had several close shots but none could beat the BCA keeper. BCA struggled to effectively get past senior defenders Fiona Crawford (co-captain) and Mary Conant, junior Ruby Crawford, and sophomore Cole McGinnes. The few chances BCA had were handled by the always-ready goalkeeper, senior Reilly Hobe.
As I reflect on the game, what strikes me most is how everything came together in the end. The team defended as a whole. The attackers immediately pressed to win the ball back and the midfielders dropped back to snuff out many of the attacks or force errant passes that the back four easily handled. When the ball was won back it was moved up field with a series a quick passes. Block Island attacked down the middle as well as both sides and if there wasn’t a good opportunity they were comfortable to pass the ball back and reload for another attack. It was both effective and entertaining.
The Hurricanes continued their relentless attacks and were eventually rewarded with a goal by junior Mathias Heinz, who is also co-captain. The play began with some nice interplay between seniors Jostin Blanco and David Barillas who put a great through-ball to freshman Hector Muñoz. He found a charging Heinz who finally beat the BCA keeper. Unfortunately, senior Gerson Menéndez Hernendez, who has been nursing an injury through much of the season, was unable to continue.
The second goal came off of a throw-in from McGinnes to junior Tairique Diaz who drove the goal line and cut the ball back to Heinz for his brace. Heinz completed his hat trick on a beautiful play. It started with senior Julia Gasner winning the ball at midfield and passing back to Ruby Crawford, who sent a long ball down to a charging Heinz. The final goal of the half was scored on a breakaway by Hector Muñoz who had stolen the ball from the defender.
The second half opened quickly for the Hurricanes. Heinz cleared the ball up to midfield to senior Andrew McGarry, who dribbled a bit and then dropped the ball back to Blanco, who split the back line sending McGarry in for a breakaway, which he calmly placed into the back of the net. The sixth goal was off a pass from McGinnes to Diaz who beat the keeper on the near post. The final goal was a side to side affair. Blanco played the ball from the right to the far left where Heinz chased the ball down and cut the ball back to Blanco in the middle of the field who, in a crowd, slotted the ball in.
The game ended with a preview of next year’s team, juniors Danny Reyes, sophomore Tim Connor, and freshmen Caleb Butcher, Rory Crawford, Hector Perez Santana, and Chloe Weber. Next year’s team showed that they understood the style of play which made this year so successful. They kept possession, closed down all attacks and kept the pressure on BCA.
Not available or did not play for the finals were senior Maya Veldman-Wilson, junior Patrick McNerney, sophomores Daniel Cullen, Stephanie Rich, and freshman James Arnott. Veldman-Wilson was on injured reserve for the whole season, but she was fully committed to this team and she assisted by recording game statistics which helped us immensely at halftime and more importantly in developing practice plans during the week. Even though she could not play she faithfully attended every practice to show her support. Sophomore Stephanie Rich was also on injured reserve for the season and she too continued to support the team by attending both practices and games, one of which she filmed that helped us prepare for the finals.
I am looking forward to her complete recovery and return to the team next year
I wish to personally thank the seniors for four wonderful years. It has been my pleasure to observe their growth and how well they play together, culminating in such a wonderful season. So a special acknowledgement to the seniors David Barillas, Jostin Blanco, Captain Fiona Crawford, Julia Gasner, Reilly Hobe, Andrew McGarry, Gerson Menéndez Hernendez, and Maya Veldman-Wilson, as well as assistant coach Callum Crawford.