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The Yellow Jackets’ head coach, Fred Sandhop, receives a water bath in celebration of the team's state championship.

 

Soccer team scores school’s first state title

By John Ewen

HASTINGS — Hastings assistant coach Richard Kavy made one point clear all season long: No matter how many games the Yellow Jackets won, no matter how many regional and sectional titles they brought home, there was unfinished business in the state soccer championships.

After losing in the semifinals last year, the Yellow Jackets were a team on a mission: avenge their 2015 elimination.

With two wins at Middletown High School last weekend, that mission was accomplished with the first state championship, for any sport, in the history of Hastings High School.

Led by head coach Fred Sandhop, the Yellow Jackets ended their incredible season with a 3-1 win over Section 3 champion Westhill on Nov. 13 to earn the 2016 Class B boys’ soccer championship.

“For the Hastings varsity soccer team, its coaching staff, former players, Hastings High School and its alumni, the community of Hastings, and all of our fans, winning a state championship means everything,” Kavy said. “We were so close last year, losing a game we thought we should have won. This year, winning has brought even more pride to the community.”

Following their best postseason performance against Carle Place in the regional finals one week earlier (Nov. 5, a 4-0 win), Hastings squared off against Section 2’s Ichabod Crane in the state semifinals on Nov. 12. It was a textbook Yellow Jackets performance of possession-oriented play that resulted in a 2-1 victory.

While the Yellow Jackets controlled the ball, and had early opportunities, the Riders scored first. With 16:15 remaining in the first half, Anthony Carlucci buried a pass from Kevin Winglosky past Hastings goalkeeper Daymon Theodule to the right side to put Ichabod Crane up 1-0 on their first shot of the day.

Hastings soon responded. Ian Charles fired a shot off the crossbar with 13:50 remaining, and 16 seconds later the Yellow Jackets scored the equalizer. Diego Rodriguez connected with Oscar Pereira, who shot the ball past Ichabod Crane’s goalie Peter Volkmann on the right side of the net.

The Yellow Jackets continued to move the ball around through the rest of the half to create opportunities, but the Riders withstood the offensive pressure. Hastings’ best chance to go ahead came in the 37th minute, when Charles kicked a sharp angle shot left of the net. The shot bounced off the inside of the right post and rolled out of the goal, where Ichabod Crane recovered before any damage could be done.

Control remained in Hastings’ corner in the second half, but despite passing all over the field, no offensive opportunities presented themselves through the first 20 minutes. But as was the story all season long, the Yellow Jackets found an opening when allowed to control the ball. Nate Constantine shot a pass from Willem Bos past a diving Volkmann to put Hastings up 2-1 with 16:43 left in regulation.

Ichabod Crane had scoring chances late, but the Hastings defense preserved the lead. The Riders best chance came with just over two minutes remaining, after Bryant Halpin fired a shot from far out that Theodule snagged out of the air at the goal line. Hastings drained the remaining clock to punch their ticket to the state championship game.

With possession dominance being a formula for success, the Yellow Jackets’ game plan for the finals against Westhill did not deviate much from the season-long norm.

“We possessed the ball until we had the opportunities to go forward on attack,” Kavy said. “The style of soccer we play is very frustrating to opponents, fans, and even at times our own players. We play a patient possession game. We have told the boys all year, ‘possess and frustrate,’ and when going on the attack is available, take your chances.”

Westhill controlled the ball in the opening minutes, but Hastings took over the pace of play soon after. Charles and Andrea Russo fired early shots, both of which were wide. Pereira split the Westhill defense and had an open shot deep in the offensive zone midway through the first half, but that also went wide of the net.

The consistent pressure in Westhill’s side of the field became too much for the Warriors to handle. Jackson Silverstein, the hero in the regional tournament, fired a shot past Westhill keeper Antonio Scrimale with 19:24 left in the half to put the Yellow Jackets on the board. Four minutes later, it was Silverstein again, shooting off a Pereira corner kick to put Hastings up 2-0.

“Jackson has come up big in big games for us all season,” Kavy said. “He continued that dominance in the finals. He just has a knack for being in the right spot at the right time. He’s an integral part of this team keeping possession and helping to play the style of soccer we want to play.”

While the Yellow Jackets dominated ball control for most of the half, the two-goal lead put Hastings in a position where they would not be denied the championship. Westhill was unable to register a shot on goal until the second half.

While Silverstein made sure his final game was one to remember in the first half, Pereira went out with a bang in the second. With 26:10 left to play in regulation, Charlie Bolesh received a yellow card. Pereira stepped up for the free kick and shot it past Scrimale to the left side of the net, giving the Yellow Jackets insurance as he had done all season.

“Oscar has been a great addition to our back four,” Kavy said. “He helps to secure the defensive area for us while still having the option to attack when he wants. Teammates of his have tried to emulate his style of play all season, which has lifted our game to new heights.”

Westhill did eventually get on the board, after Jon Holl was able to sneak a shot past Theodule in the 58th minute, but the Warriors were unable to score again against the Hastings defense. The Yellow Jackets kept passing around the field and maintaining possession as the clock wound down to victory, capping off a season that featured only one loss.

A title win for Hastings means more than a piece of hardware and a name in the history books. It’s the culmination of a multi-year journey that ended in heartbreak last year.

“The boys have worked so hard since the end of last season,” Kavy said. “They worked all summer long, two practices a day during preseason, overcame adversity of not having a home practice field and having to travel every day to get to one. They were determined to make it back to Middletown this year, but to come home as state champions. It’s an incredible feeling lifting that trophy, but it’s an even better feeling sharing the moment with our fans and community.”


Read more local coverage of your hometown in this week’s issue of the Rivertowns Enterprise. Newsstand copies are available at several locations listed above, or subscribe today for convenient home delivery.


 

November 18, 2016

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