The Southwestern Trojans have played nine soccer games this season at Charles A. Lawson Field.
None of those contests, Coach Mark Sleggs maintained, was better than the one they turned in on a cold, wet and wind-swept Thursday night.
''I thought that was the best game at home all year,'' he said, ''just in terms of guys just playing together and moving.''
Southwestern’s Tristen Desnerck heads the ball during Thursday night’s Section 6 Class B-2 quarterfinal boys soccer game against Wilson. See additional photos at cu.post-journal.com.
P-J photo by Mark L. Anderson
Senior midfielder Tristan Desnerck tallied a pair of goals, while sophomore forward Jackson Rybicki and junior midfielder Dylan Lundmark added one apiece to spark No. 2 Southwestern to a 4-0 victory over No. 7 Wilson in a Section 6 Class B-2 quarterfinal.
Senior keeper Eric Priester, aided by strong defensive work by junior Pat Mogehan and seniors Sam Quattrone, Tyler Bell and Alex Bower, recorded his 12th shutout, including the last eight in a row.
''We don't have the season we have right now if it wasn't for those five guys in the back,'' Sleggs said. ''They're like our unsung heroes.
''Soccer guys take a lot of pride in not letting the other team score. (Conversely), when their team scores, they're filled with joy.''
There was plenty of that going around as the Trojans left the field last night.
For not only did they raise their record to 15-0-2 and extend their winning streak to 15, but they also - and most importantly - earned a berth in the semifinals at noon Saturday against No. 6 Charter School for Applied Technologies (4-12) at All High Stadium in Buffalo. CSAT advanced by virtue of a 4-2 upset of No. 3 Lackawanna yesterday afternoon.
''This is almost like basketball now,'' Sleggs said. ''We get one day and we have to go up and play a semifinal. I would have liked to have two days (to prepare), but everybody has to be ready.''
Southwestern, despite the cold and rain/snow mix, got its coach's memo, especially Jackson Rybicki.
Clinging to a 1-0 lead - Desnerck scored at the 5:50 mark assisted by senior midfielder Riley Rybicki - the Trojans needed a goal to gain some separation from the Lakemen.
Jackson Rybicki delivered at 51:27.
''That was a big one,'' Sleggs said. ''The last three weeks he's been making a lot of hustle plays. It was good to have him get a goal like that, because he's been hustling a lot and creating a lot of havoc.''
Armed with a two-goal lead, Southwestern dominated the rest of the game.
Desnerck tallied his second goal - and his 19th of the season - courtesy of some nifty ball skills at the 70th minute.
Taking the ball up the middle of the field, he bounced the ball twice off his head before directing it past the Wilson keeper, pushing the Trojans' lead to 3-0.
''Advancing it to himself, especially with the pressure he had there, that was good ball control,'' Sleggs said. ''That was really good.''
Less than four minutes later, Lundmark tallied Southwestern's final goal unassisted.
''I was thinking about this the other day,'' Sleggs said. ''Tanner (Hoose), Tristan (Desnerck), Andy (Bell) and Riley (Rybicki) played as freshmen and this has actually been a four-year process. We hoped we could get (a sectional title) last year, but we're just going to see what happens. Thankfully, they've bought into what we've been trying to do the last couple years.''
A year ago, the Trojans lost to Tonawanda, 1-0 in overtime, in the semifinals. Tonawanda went on to win the sectional title. Southwestern will get a chance to advance one more step Saturday.
''We're going to have to play unselfishly and look for our teammates if we're going to win,'' Sleggs said. ''If we're willing to look for each other, we have a lot of possibilities.''