By Izzy Sullivan
Five minutes into the Sectionals Semifinal game, Coach Skonieczny (also known as Coach S) yelled out to the field, “win your battles!” The boys took his message to heart and were determined to maintain their twelve game winning streak. Beacon also came with force, bringing a loud fan section. The intensity was unbelievable with the stands packed. Starting from the first whistle, the Bobcats were dominating the game. Early in the first half, senior Danny Friedman placed the ball past Beacon’s keeper into the goal, but unfortunately, the referee called it offsides. After that, Byram’s frustration raised the intensity of the game, which led to beautifully controlled possession. The center mids on Byram (senior Ryan Noel, junior Mike Kalian, senior Jordan Drossman, and junior Sebastien Sampere) were using their skill to dribble through Beacon’s defenders and serve balls to their forwards.
Twenty minutes into the game, Max Hammond got fouled in the box, which resulted in Ryan Noel’s penalty kick. Noel struck the ball into the bottom right corner. Beacon’s keeper didn’t stand a chance. Byram was up 1-0 at halftime. Senior captain Ryan Noel commented, “We all knew it was gonna be a tough game considering the fact that we lost in this round the previous two years. We came out hungry for the win taking an early lead off a penalty.”
Byram’s defense had another key game as well. Seniors Chandler Glat, Leo Wangensteen, and Max Matza as well as junior Griffin Rakower would not let the ball past them with their important clears and headers, especially against the “7-foot, 300-pound monster” of a left forward on Beacon. There was also a huge Beacon midfielder who was fighting for the ball with Noel and Mike Kalian throughout the game—what does Beacon put in their water?
When the second half began, both teams continued to compete at a high level. Beacon came back though, scoring in the last 10 minutes from an assist off of a free kick. Ryan adds, “When they equalized there was a lot of deja vu to last years game against Somers.” Byram needed a goal fast. Unfortunately, the boys could not finish to put the game away in time. The game ended with a score of 1-1 and headed into overtime.
Overtime consisted of two fifteen minutes halves that were sudden death. The next goal would place that team into the finals. Byram wanted it more than Beacon, as they were doing everything in their power to win this game; it paid off. Senior Leo Wangensteen took a throw-in for Byram (which was basically a corner kick given that Leo can throw the ball over 20 yards). Off of Wangensteen’s long throw into the box, Mike Kalian ran into the box, timing his run perfectly, and banged a header into the goal, winning the game for Byram 2-1. Leo noted that “It was an incredible experience. After two years of getting knocked out this round, winning the game gave me an indescribable feeling. It’s important that we stay humble, though, and that we stick to our game plan in order to come out victorious on Saturday.”
After winning, the boys took to the bleachers to celebrate with all those who came out to support them, chanting “Oh when the Hills…”
The Bobcats are coming straight from an exciting win into the finals where they have the potential to become Sectional champions. Come cheer for these boys on Saturday at Lakeland at 3 pm!
(Photos by Zachary Milewicz)