Boys reign as regional soccer champs

Carleigh Walter, News Editor

Visiting Taylor Dewitt High might have scored first, but West Shore responded with five unanswered goals for a 5-1 victory that sent the boys’ soccer team to the Class 2A state semifinal for the first time in school history. The Wildcats will travel to Jacksonville Bolles on Friday.

“They’re coming to watch West Shore, a team that was never thought to be able to come this far. Every team we beat, they’re journey is over, ours isn’t,” Coach Scotty Armstrong said in a team talk before Tuesday night’s regional final. “Be passionate, focused, desire this. Tonight is about going in and expressing ourselves. It wont be easy. Every detail has to be taken care of this evening, nothing’s going to be easy from here on out.”

Struggling to come back after that early goal that went into the upper 90, the ’Cats roared back, hard-firing five shots in the following 13 minutes. On a pass from freshman Aidan Wixted in front of Taylor Dewitt’s goal, sophomore Ryan Robidoux sunk one in with 24 minutes and 38 seconds left in the first half, paving the way for the West Shore offensive onslaught. With five minutes left in the half,  team captain Kevin Kurtz, a senior, fired a cross from the far left corner, curving it to go into the inside netting of the goal, putting the team ahead 2-1.

“This is what we worked for boys. This is worth all the struggling,” Kurtz was heard saying before the final whistle, arms around his teammates on the bench.

After a hard-fought first half by both teams, the Wildcats went into halftime with their work cut out for them.

“Sometimes it’s the hardest thing in the world to do but I need you to do it,” Armstrong said during halftime as the clock ticked down toward what could have been the final half of the season. “I need you to trust yourself, trust each other that you’re are going to win. What are you afraid of boys? What did you focus on?  Scoring? That doesn’t get you to winning. You’ve got to be intelligent, and you’ve got to be relaxed.”

Three minutes into the second half, junior Liam Wixted scored the cushion goal that broke open the game. Seniors Nabil Motlagh and John Bocinsky, both captains, then left no doubt as to the game’s outcome, scoring a goal each.

“I’ll never forget you. You guys are my family,and tonight we’ve made history,”  Motlagh said in the post-game talk with the team. “And we’re still making it.”