I lied to my boys. The night before we took the field in our last game, the state championship game, I told them if they play with enough passion and focus the scoreboard will take care of itself. If we work for each other, we will leave the field victorious.
But the next day after 80 minutes of fighting, I stood there looking at the scoreboard with the most pain and sorrow I have ever felt. Next I would have to look each and every teammate in the eye and say, “I’m sorry. I’m sorry you are going through as much pain as I am. I’m sorry every minute of work we’ve been through since our first days of playing this game has lead to tears.” But sometimes that is how the game works.
This season has been a struggle. We had expectations higher than any team I have ever been on. Our team had all the assets for greatness, but the most difficult task was configuring our team; putting together the puzzle. We’ve experimented and failed multiple times. At our lowest times we knew the season was heading for a bust. All that being said, in the end I think our struggles did not go unrecognized. We failed to accept defeat and played our best in the final games of the season. Our last performance is something I’m proud to say I was a part of. That’s what makes my reflection of the season that much more difficult to contemplate. We were the better team, but we left the field silently and I had to explain to my guys that the game has an ugly side too.
Please know that all 26 guys on this year’s Raiders team put everything they had into this season. We made constant adjustments to our mental and physical preparation so that we could reach our best playing ability. Everyone put their heart and soul into the fitness sessions, technical drills, and inter-squad scrimmages. I was challenged by guys to be a better player and a better leader everyday. Out of all my years as a player I can honestly say this team had the most personality out of any team I’ve been a member of. We fooled around and worked, laughed and sweat, together. Every guy was important to our team and our end goal and I’m proud to call each one of them my brother.
My time as a player at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School has been the most gratifying experience I have ever had. I’ve traveled the world, played in front of thousands of people, experienced great triumph, and been humbled by devastating defeat. I’ve played with many players who will or did go on to play at the next level. Most importantly, playing soccer for my school and town has taught me how to be passionate about something. Taught me how to endeavor not for personal accolades, but for the love I have for others. I’ve found a new dimension to myself that I will carry with me throughout my entire life.
I’m truly grateful for the time I’ve spent as part of the Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School soccer team.
Special thanks to…
Patrick Ellman and Sean Murray, two guys that I have experienced so much with throughout our high school soccer careers.
The rest of this year’s senior class, Andrew Borik, Robert Devine-Gelling, Parker Dvorin, Max More, Andrew Murray, Stephen Scarcella, Robbie Viglione, and David Walker, for all we’ve accomplished together from u8 up to now.
Coach Breznitsky, Coach Mortarulo, and Coach Stiffler for all you’ve taught me as a player and person.
The whole Scotch Plains-Fanwood Community, for all the support in the high times and low.