Thursday, May 12, 2016

Saturday, May 7, 2016
Westminster boys claim third consecutive soccer title
By Chris Gay
Staff Writer

Westminster's #15 Jannie Nel and Fugees Academy's #9 Joseph Minani battle for the ball during Westminster's 4-0 win over Fugees Academy.

Seth Robinson and his fellow seniors went out in style Saturday night.

Robinson scored a goal and added an assist as Westminster defeated Fugees Academy, 4-0, in the GISA boys championship at Blanchard Woods Park.

With the victory, the Wildcats (16-4) claimed their third consecutive state title.

“Westminster soccer has been a big part of my life,” said Robinson, one of three seniors along with Benj O'Neill and Ian Vickery. “Ending it this way, I couldn’t think of anything better.”

Junior Drew Woods scored two goals and recorded an assist, while freshman Anders McCallie added another goal for the Wildcats.

Defense played a huge part of the Wildcats’ victory. Westminster didn’t allow a goal in the state tournament, giving up just three combined in the past 11 contests.

“I think our defense has played great all year,” Wildcats coach Mike Freace said. “It’s been one of the strengths of our team.”

Westminster played without a handful of players in midseason when it endured a four-game losing stretch, including three defeats in the Regions Border Classic. The Wildcats rebounded to close the season on an 11-game winning streak.

“Every year you deal with adversity and deal with injuries,” Freace said. “That just happened to coincide with a really tough part of our schedule. But to be honest, that was a really foundational time to building our team.”

Against Fugees Academy (10-1), Westminster got on the board with 28:55 left in the first half. Off a perfect corner kick from Woods, Robinson scored on a header.

Later in the half, Cale McLarnon crossed the ball over to Woods, who scored on a diving header. With 4:03 remaining until intermission, McCallie split two defenders and beat goalie Wai Lin Htet inside the left post.

In the second half, Woods added his second goal on a free kick. From there, the defense took the reins.

Woods and the rest of the junior class will now have an opportunity to pull off a rare four-peat next season. Following his team’s latest victory, he credited his coach and teammates.

“I’ve had great leaders, great captains as my teammates all three years,” Woods said. “I’ve had a great coach. Mike Freace is one of the best coaches I’ve ever had. He’s a great leader and a better coach.”

Westminster bests Frederica, advances to GISA championship

By Chris Gay
Staff Writer
Friday, May 6, 2016 9:59 PM
Last updated Saturday, May 7, 2016 1:01 AM

After narrowly missing a handful of opportunities in the second half, Westminster remained patient.

Thomas Drake and Jannie Nel each scored in the final 25 minutes to help lift the Wildcats to a 2-0 victory over Frederica in the GISA Class AAA semifinals Friday at Blanchard Woods Park.

Westminster (15-4), the two-time defending state champion, advances to play the Brookwood-Fugees winner in the championship game at 6:30 p.m. today.

“These guys have worked so hard all year,” Wildcats coach Mike Freace said. “To be back in position again as a team, it’s a lot of fun.”

After losing four consecutive matches in March, Westminster has reeled off a 10-game winning streak. This time, the Wildcats shook off a scoreless first half and several near-misses just after intermission.

Early in the second half, a Drake shot deflected off the right post. Then, Seth Robinson’s free kick from just outside the box was saved by John Mitchell Brock. Later, Nel’s header off a corner kick ricocheted off the left post.

With a little more than 24 minutes to go, Drake beat his defender to a ball kicked by teammate Seth Robinson in front of the goal. Drake fired his shot to the left of goalie John Mitchell Brock to put Westminster on the board.

“The guys did a good job and stuck to the game plan,” Freace said. “You get a little bit anxious when you start hitting posts and things aren’t bouncing your way. I think they just stayed confident that things would eventually bounce their way, and they did.”

With 4:08 remaining, Jelani Watson-Gayle launched a free kick from near midfield toward the goal. Brock bobbled the save, while Nel rushed in to kick the ball into the net.

The goal clinched the contest for the Wildcats.

“In the first half, we were getting some free kicks on goal and there were some rebounds we weren’t following up,” Freace said. “We just said we had some free kicks we needed to follow up and he did that.”

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Westminster boys soccer wins, advances to state semifinals

Westminster boys soccer wins, advances to state semifinals

Westminster 2, Deerfield-Windsor 0

By Wayne Staats
Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 27, 201

The lead was still there, but it wasn’t safe.

Finally, after peppering the Deerfield-Windsor goal with shots, Jannie Nel and the Wildcats boys soccer team could finally celebrate.

Nel’s goal with only 2:46 remaining ensured Westminster would advance, as the Wildcats won, 2-0, Wednesday evening in a GISA Class AAA state quarterfinal. Westminster, the defending state champion, will play in the state semifinals May 6.

“We just got to keep positive with each other and keep pushing forward,” Nel said. “Even if we lose the ball, we’ll just keep going and keep playing with each other and playing for the win.”
For most of the game, the Wildcats stayed the aggressor and in possession and won most battles for the ball. Sometimes shots sailed over the bar, but when they were on target, Knights keeper Grant Wollam made huge stops. In the opening minute, he went low to his left to keep it scoreless.

“We got to give them credit,” Wildcats coach Mike Freace said. “I thought they defended well – their goalkeeper is very good. He made some really nice saves.”

Westminster solved the defense with 13:05 to go in the first half, when Thomas Drake got the ball from teammate Seth Robinson and provided the finishing touch.

Playing with the lead the rest of the way, Westminster rarely missed having possession and chances, but Deerfield-Windsor did get one good look against Wildcats keeper Brandon Smith, who had a diving stop early in the second half.

Westminster, which beat the Knights 6-0 earlier this season and 3-0 in the 2015 state championship game, is now only two wins away from a repeat.

Like a year ago, the Wildcats have plenty of time to prepare before they have to win May 6 -7 at Blanchard Woods Park to win the championship.

“We had to do it last year, and I think it’s time for us to get back to basics and use the extra time to get some foundational stuff in so we’re nice and sharp going into the final four.” Freace said.