Streaking down the field, junior midfielder Abe Murphy nutmegged a defender with a heel chop and passed across the box to senior forward Amugo Chukwunenye who finished it off with his left foot. The goal occurred in the 20th minute of the second half and ended up making the difference in the 1-0 Wildcat victory in the Class 2A State Soccer Championship game on Feb. 16. After having a stretch during the season where he scored 10 goals in four games, Chukwunenye’s goal marked his first since the team’s opening district match.

“It meant a lot to me to score, and it was really good that I scored because the last few games I had been in a drought,” Chukwunenye said. “It felt awesome. I was so excited. I was just happy we scored because in a lot of these games when, we score the first goal, it’s good because we could control the pace of the game. That was a really good feeling putting it in the back of the net.”

At that point, the approximately 260 West Shore students who checked out from school and traveled to Deland, erupted in euphroia in Stetson University’s Spec Martin Stadium.

“When Amugo scored we all tried to run up to him to celebrate,” senior defender Matthew Moscrip said. “But he ran like lightning over to the fans. I’ve never seen him so hyped up before. It was chaos.”

The ‘Cats had previously defeated Berkeley Prep for the state championship during the 2011-2012 season and neither team had been back to the title game since then.

When Berkeley senior Max Learner just missed a goal six minutes in, he squandered his team’s best scoring opportunity because the West Shore defense shut down his team the rest of the way, not allowing a single shot on goal.

“It was an awesome effort from the guys,” sophomore midfielder Chase Hester said. “Berkeley had a lot of pressure in the first half but our defense held strong and we were able to counter in the second half and get the goal we needed.”

The team’s unbeaten postseason run began with an 8-0 victory over district rival Cocoa Beach in the District 2 Semifinal on Jan. 25, causing sports fans on campus to take notice and school spirit to gain momentum.

Senior dancer Hope Dougherty said the team’s success had a greater impact on the school than the players may have realized.

“I think this is a really big deal for our school,” Dougherty said. “Our school spirit seems to have skyrocketed in the past couple weeks due to their success. Judging by the guys’ reaction after the games, they seem to really appreciate the support and even play better with more fans in the stands.”

The Wildcats went on to defeat Melbourne Central Catholic 2-0 in the District 2 final. Senior midfielder and co-captain Sam Leighton scored one of the goals, and also saw his brother, sophomore defender Ian, ejected and suspended for the next four games for unsportsmanlike behavior. The elder Leighton said the team used his brother’s absence as fuel for motivation.

“The entire postseason everyone had the mindset where we had to get to the state final so Ian could play one more game in the season, and we made that happen,” he said. “When Ian subbed on in the first half [of the state final], it gave everyone a big boost, which was a big weapon for us.”

Junior defender Brandon Benitez filled in for Ian during his suspension and the team allowed only one goal with the adjusted lineup.

“[Senior defender Matthew Moscrip] slid out to right back, and Brandon stepped into the middle [of the defense], and he’s a beast,” Ian Leighton said.

The team next faced Lake Highland Prep in the Region 8 Quarterfinal where it won 4-1, propelled by two free-kick goals from senior defender and co-captain Nicholas Burgess. Freshman goalkeeper Cooper Stein allowed his only goal of the postseason and the only goal in the last 10 games.

“The team did a good job of keeping a lot of pressure off of me,” said Stein, who had missed the two days of school leading up to the state final, with the flu. “Coach Bob [Robidoux] has been pushing me really hard in practice and it has helped me improve a lot throughout the season.”

In the Region 8 Semifinal, the Wildcats squared off against Bishop Moore, a team that had knocked them out of regional competition three out of the last four years. Sam Leighton described the feeling he felt when the team overcame the obstacle that had stopped them in the past.

“It was definitely a big win for me,” he said. “I have traveled up to their field and lost three times, so knowing they are going through what I went through feels pretty good. When we left in defeat the first few times, I just kept thinking of what I could have done throughout the game to make a difference, now they’re feeling the same thing.”

In the Region 8 Final, the team defeated The Villages Charter 1-0 on a goal from Murphy. This goal along with two scored by Murphy in the previous game, were all assisted by sophomore midfielder Cameron Yeutter.

“Cameron’s really good at finding attackers,’ Murphy said. “He is one of the only center midfielders who is always looking to attack, when he gets in those positions he almost always gets the pass to me.”

Moscrip suffered an ankle sprain during the second half of the the state semifinal game against Bishop Kenny, which West Shore won 1-0.

“My foot had already been fractured but I rolled it again and it got worse and really bruised,” Moscrip said.

Through the pain, Moscrip still started against the Buccaneers and played all 80 minutes. Burgess said Moscrip was the best defender in the game.

“Matthew played amazing,” Burgess said. “He was always there making the big plays, even on a fractured ankle.”

Next year when junior midfielder Kishan Ghayal walks into the West Shore gym he will see his own championship poster next to the one commemorating the 2012 team, which his brother Darshan was a part of.

“I just now realized what winning [the championship] really means and all the glory it comes with,” Ghayal said. “I feel really blessed to have been a part of such a talented team that will go down in the history books. Seeing our banner will bring back all of the memories of the unimaginable run we went on to win the state title for our school.”

By David Thompson and Mattthew Jones