Bobcats Bring Sectional Glory Back to the Hills

By Casey Begleiter

On Saturday at Lakeland High School, the boys soccer team took home a Section Championship with a 3-2 overtime win over a talented Nyack team. Within the first 10 minutes, Nyack found the back of the net off a cross to take what would be their only lead of the game. Although a goal like that could be discouraging, the Bobcats remained confident.

Opportunities were coming but the Bobcats couldn’t seem to find the back of the net. Senior captain Max Hammond had a shot that seemed destined to find the back of the net until a Nyack defender deflected it away at the last second. Shortly after this Byram finally capitalized off a long pass from defender Leo Wangenstein and after a deflection towards the net, Spencer Weinhoff put it past the goalie with his left foot to tie the game. However, Weinhoff wasn’t done and one minute later off a long pass from Max Hammond, Weinhoff controlled the ball off his chest and tapped it past the goalie to find the open net to take a 2-1 lead. Spencer said “Both of those goals felt great but I knew the game wasn’t even close to being over. I knew we had to keep the pressure up if we were going to win.” Junior Michael Kalian added, “After Spencer scored twice the team regained all the confidence we had lost. The game really turned at that point taking the lead so quickly after being down.“ The Bobcats had all the momentum going into halftime.

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Junior Spencer Weinhoff (with three goals for Byram) is interviewed after the game. (Photo by Justin Schmalholz)

Early in the 2nd half, both teams exchanged some scoring opportunities. Byram goalie senior Andrew Fishman had a phenomenal save on a shot from point-blank range. Shortly after that, Nyack was able to capitalize. From about 40 yards out, a Nyack player sent the ball soaring over the goalies head and into the back of the net. Before regulation was over, the Bobcats had their share of scoring chances. Senior Danny Friedman had a great run into the box and was taken down but no penalty was called even after livid Bobcats argued with the referees. With a few short minutes left in the game, Ryan Noel was also taken down just outside the box and had a free kick opportunity. He had a great shot but the Nyack goalie was able to keep it out with a diving save.

When overtime began, the Bobcats made the proper adjustments to be ready for the most important 20 minutes of their season. Kalian added “When overtime began we knew exactly what we had to do. We’d been through this last game and we had so much confidence in ourselves that we could get it done again.” Early in the first sudden death period, Max Matza sent a header that the goalie deflected just over the crossbar. On the ensuing corner kick, Ryan Noel sent in a great corner kick that missed everybody. Everybody except Spencer Weinhoff who was perfectly placed on the back post. He extended his right leg out and got a foot on it to hit the back of the net. Spencer said this about the goal, “I was in shock. The ball fell at my feet and I just ran through it. There’s no better feeling.” A celebration followed for a well-earned victory in the Section Championship. The joy on the player’s faces could easily be seen. Michael Kalian described it as, “a dream come true.” The same can be said for all of the team as they’ve been working tirelessly since the dog days of August. The road for the Bobcats continues Wednesday at 6 pm vs Goshen at Middletown High School.