High School Soccer
Hawks close impressive season
AUGUSTA — The ending wasn’t nearly as thrilling as the journey to the GISA Class AAA boys soccer semifinals. But The Heritage School’s 2014 lineup still got a chance to bask in the glories of its accomplishments having restored the program to successes not seen in a decade.
The Hawks closed its season with a 6-0 loss to No. 1 seed and Region 4-AAA champion Westminster-Augusta, which used a lineup that plays year-round to overpower a Heritage team without a club-level player on its roster, yet still managed to come within a victory of reaching a state title game in a 15-3 season.
Westminster jumped on the Hawks for two goals in the opening five minutes to take control of the game early.
“We ran into a buzzsaw,” said Heritage first-year head coach Nathan Watts. “Before the game we were going over our goals for this season and I asked the guys if anyone thought we would win nine games this year. Nobody did. It was a situation where they had been down [as a program] for so long.”
Eight seniors helped the Hawks return to the boys soccer semifinals for the first time since winning a Class AA championship in 2004. The roster includes more than a half-dozen football players from the fall including 6-foot-3 sophomore goalkeeper Cole Jones, who had never played soccer prior to this year at any level.
“We didn’t have one club player on our team,” Watts said.
An influx of varsity players also saw the return of the school’s middle school program this spring. The Hawks, meanwhile, seemed to turn a corner in the Region 1-AAA schedule with a 3-2 win over Trinity Christian in penalty kicks.
The rivals played into overtime twice this season in games that ultimately decided the No. 2 seed out of 1-AAA. Heritage then advanced in the state playoffs with consecutive shutouts over Westfield (3-0) and Deerfield-Windsor (1-0). The latter effort over the No. 1 seed out of Region 3-AAA was decided in the final 20 seconds of overtime on a goal by David Martin.
“At that point that we won the number two seed, our guys’ eyes lit up. They understood that we could battle with teams and we eventually did it against a number one [seed].”
Watts feels the progress made both on the varsity and middle-school levels gives Heritage a chance at keeping its success going into the 2015 season next spring.
“It’s great to see kids out in the courtyard at school kicking soccer balls,” he said.