Heritage boys prepare to tackle another Goliath in Final Four
Maybe it's fitting that David Martin found a way with 20 seconds remaining to push The Heritage School past Deerfield-Windsor and into tonight's GISA Class AAA Final Four game against topseed Westminster-Augusta.
For the Hawks, it's just another Goliath of an opponent they'll have to overcome.
Relative unknowns around the state throughout most of the season, Heritage has willed its way back to prominence in GISA boys soccer following a decade where the program was all but out of the playoff picture.
Outside of two losses to Region 1-AAA champion Holy Spirit, which fell to Stratford in Monday's other Class AAA semifinal, a Hawks team led by at least eight seniors has brought the program to its furthest point since a 2004 Class AA state title under first-year head coach Nathan Watts.
'With eight seniors, the leadership on this team has been incredible,' Watts said following Friday's impressive 1-0 overtime win over No. 3 state-ranked Deerfield-Windsor, this year's Region 3-AAA champion.
The latest win improved Heritage's overall record to 14-2.
Westminster has been dominant this year en route to a 4-AAA crown. But No. 2 ranked Wildcats haven't been unbeatable either despite earning a first-round bye in the state playoffs.
Westminster's last loss ironically came against Deerfield Windsor in the final game of the Stratford Cup, falling 2-0 on March 22. It came after a 2-1 victory over state finalist and host Stratford.
Since then, however, the Wildcats have outscored opponents 36-1, with the lone goal against coming in its 4-1 quarterfinal victory over No. 4 ranked Mount de Sales.
Mount de Sales defeated a Trinity Christian team that took Heritage to overtime twice during the regular season by an overwhelming 8-0 decision.
Watts, however, has kept a philosophy of not letting opponents dictate their style of play. Against Deerfield, Heritage stayed aggressive and, despite nearly running out of steam late in the second half, got a key save on a penalty kick by sophomore first-year keeper Cole Jones to send the game in overtime.
'I've told our guys, it's not the result. It's how we play the game,' Watts said.