Senior Night win clinches post-season berth

By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Wed., Oct. 24, 2012
Senior defender Oshady Daron cuts upfield during the first half of a match-up with East Catholic on Oct. 18. Photos by Colin Rajala.
Senior defender Oshady Daron cuts upfield during the first half of a match-up with East Catholic on Oct. 18. Photos by Colin Rajala.

The Windsor High School boys' soccer team (6-6-1) battled with the East Catholic Eagles (9-3-1) for 79 minutes and 55 seconds before winning 1-0, on a header with five seconds left in the contest from junior forward Mike Phang off a corner kick from junior midfielder  Jason Stargardter. With the Senior Night victory under the lights of Jack O’Brien Stadium on Oct. 18, the Warriors clinched a berth in the Class L state tournament, their first post-season appearance since 2010.

“When we scored the goal, I was so excited for my boys,” said head coach Peter Lepak. “Running on the field hugging your players is really just an amazing feeling. It's the combination of hours of dedication, sweat, research, game film, repetition and desire that comes together in one succinct moment. In my eight years of coaching this team, this was the best feeling I have ever felt. And I am sure the boys echo my sentiments.”

In the first half, the Warriors struggled with the poor field conditions and battled an effective attacking game plan from the Eagles, who outshot Windsor 5-1. With 17 minutes left in the first half, Windsor junior goalkeeper Andrew Tasillo came off his line and made a sliding stop to break up an East Catholic through ball to one timer to keep the score all square at the half.

Prior to the game, Lepak invited back former players Julian Davis, Bilal Afolabi and Greg Andrade to give the pre-game speech to the team. The three players were part of a senior squad that fell to East Catholic 3-2 on Senior Night as they attempted to qualify for the state tournament. “The college kids talked about rewriting history and how much of a brotherhood they all had, and how they see the same in this year's bunch,” Lepak said.

The 2012 squad took the pre-game speech to heart and came out in the second half ready to go and put the pressure on their rivals. The Windsor attack almost took the lead four minutes into the half on a bicycle kick in the box from Phang that floated just over the cross bar. With nine minutes left in the half, senior forward Josh Groeshel received a through ball and beat the last defender, leaving him one-on-one with the goal-keeper. Groeshel touched the ball past the keeper, but he was unable to control the touch, and by the time he had a chance to fire a shot on the empty net, the last defender made a run back to him, forcing him to push the shot wide as he toppled over.

With less than a minute left in regulation, Windsor pushed forward, keeping the pressure on and the ball on East Catholic’s half of the field. Windsor attempted three corners in the final minute and outshot East Catholic 9-2 before Phang’s game winner.

“It will be sad to see my seven seniors leave,” Lepak said. "I have seen them grow from young boys to men. Their transformation is why I coach high school sports in the fall and youth soccer in the spring. It's just so great to be a part of so many kids' lives.”

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