1997 WHS Boys Soccer Team: Reliving ’Cats magical ride to the state championship game | Sports

The story under on the induction of the 1997 WHS Boys Soccer workforce into the Corridor of Fame first seem­ed within the November third, 2016 concern of the City Cri­er.

We’re re-running this story, in addition to that includes the 1990 and 1998 groups as we glance again on the dec­ade of excellence with this program.

WILMINGTON — The 1997 Wilmington Excessive Faculty boys’ soccer season was definitely one that can all the time be bear in mind­ed for thus many alternative causes.

The Wildcats have been led by Coach Dick Scanlon, who had taken the 1990 workforce to the Japanese Mass remaining, solely to take this workforce seven years later one step additional to the Division Three state remaining. It was a workforce comprised of so many several types of gamers and personalities, who throughout these very chilly November playoff video games, performed tre­mendous soccer.

It was a workforce comprised of a Corridor of Fame Coach, three great captains and 5 people who’ve already been enshrin­ed into the Wilmington Excessive Faculty Athletic Corridor of Fame.

“That was a enjoyable group with loads of character,” mentioned assistant coach Chip Bruce. “In typical Dick Scanlon style he all the time knew which buttons to push and he balanced the enjoyable and the work completely. I actually needed to see that workforce win for the play­ers and for Dick.

“Having been with Steve (Scanlon at Westford Aca­demy) in ’92, I knew how particular it was to win a state title. I needed a lot for these guys to ex­perience that and I needed Dick so as to add a championship to his lengthy record of accomplishments.”

That season, the Wild­cats definitely put collectively an extended record of accomplishments. The Wildcats began the season out with a gutsy 2-1 win over New­buryport that noticed Dennis Ingram internet each targets. The workforce went on to a Three-Zero-1 document earlier than fal­ling for the primary time in a Three-2 battle with Ipswich.

After wins over Masco­no­met and North Learn­ing, the ‘Cats have been defeated by Lynnfield. And that is when the workforce received red-hot. Wil­mington closed out the common season with a 12-Three-Three general document, which in­cluded successful the Cape Ann League title with a 2-1 win over rival Mascono­met.

That pushed the Wild­cats into the Division Three North sectional match. In an epic first spherical match, Wilmington and Wayland performed to a 1-1 tie which included two extra time durations. That compelled a shoot-out, the place keeper TJ Flynn made three outstanding saves and Vallas netted the sport successful purpose.

“I’ve by no means been so nervous in my whole life,” mentioned Vallas to this repor­ter after that win. “When the shoot-out was beginning, my abdomen was damage­ing so unhealthy as a result of I used to be so nervous. I figured since I used to be a lefty and (their goalie) was popping out (of the web aggressively), to attempt to have a fast chip shot like that and it went in. This was an enormous win for us. Everybody performed awe­some.”

Wilmington went on to defeat Rockport, Three-Zero, be­hind targets from Ingram, Vallas and Darren Arci­ero. That pushed the workforce into the sectional semi-finals in opposition to league rival Hamilton-Wenham, who gave the workforce its third lack of the season, 2-Zero.

Trailing 1-Zero, Wilmington tied the sport up simply 13 seconds into the second half as Ingram scored be­fore Dan Candy netted the sport winner off a nook kick taken by tri-captain Tom Heigham.

That dramatic victory put Wilmington into the North Remaining. The ‘Cats would journey to Bedford to tackle an 20-Zero Marian Excessive Faculty squad that was led by a junior striker who had 96 targets coming into that sport. Wilmington did not again down, and handed their opponents their first lack of the season, a Three-1 resolution behind two targets from Peter Bam­berg and one other one by Ingram.

The win gave the workforce the North Sectional Cham­pionship trophy and have been two wins away from a state championship.

Simply two days after beating Marian, Wilmington was again on the sphere to face Norwell performed at Wo­burn Excessive Faculty. The sport was scoreless till the 55th minute. At the moment, Dick Scanlon went to his bench and referred to as on Heigham, who had been watching from the sidelines as much as that time.

“I advised him that ‘I need you to play ahead (and never your regular halfback place). And everytime you get an opportunity to shoot, shoot from wherever. You will have an awesome shot’.”

A minute later, Heigham scored.

“I used to be on the proper place on the proper time,” mentioned Heigham to this reporter after that win. “I feel it deflected off one among their defenders, I am unsure. However that is nice, it is a dream come true. I can bear in mind sitting within the stands at this stadium seven years in the past watching the 1990 workforce lose Three-1 to Medway within the Japanese Mass sport. I used to be ten years outdated and all I’ve ever needed to do was to have the ability to play on this sport. Wow, I am unable to imagine we will the state remaining.”

Whereas Wilmington had simply two days to arrange for the Japanese Mass sport, horrible climate situations postponed the state remaining sport and the workforce had a full week off. The truth is, the workforce was on the bus and was headed to Bos­ton College to tackle Gateway Regional and midway there, the workforce was knowledgeable that the sport had been cancelled.

“I believed within the ’97 workforce and nonetheless imagine that if that championship sport hadn’t been postponed we’d have received,” mentioned Bruce. “The gamers have been on a roll, they actually had the momentum. We have been on the bus and able to go once we received the decision that the sport was postponed.”

The sport was finally performed on a extraordinarily chilly, wet, uncooked evening on Nickerson Subject. Wilming­ton did not play its greatest sport and was defeated 1-Zero.

“The floor at BU was a problem,” mentioned Bruce. “It was a soccer subject, so it had an actual crown and it was frozen which made it tough to play the large sport that the workforce appreciated. Each time the ball was pushed exterior it rolled out of bounds. We could not play the sport the gamers have been accustomed to.”

Wilmington completed the season at 17-Four-Three. Tri-captain Jeff Arciero was named the Boston Globe’s Division Three Participant of the 12 months, in addition to a Boston Herald All-Scholastic and a Cape Ann League All-Convention choice together with Flynn. Arciero, Heigh­am and Chris Kilburn, “have been three of the most effective captains I’ve ever had right here. They’re low keyed, they don’t seem to be the rah-rah sort. They don’t seem to be yellers and screamers —they have a tendency to enterprise,” mentioned Scanlon throughout the season.

Scanlon in addition to Mark DiGiovanni, Ingram, Scott Swiezynski, Vallas and Jeff Arciero have since been inducted into the Corridor of Fame.

The remainder of the workforce included: Anthony Soroka, Darren Arciero, Josh Mi­chaud, Greg Longo, Dan­ny Candy, Matt Kacam­buras, TJ Flynn, Sean Cahill, Ry­an Covino, Pe­ter Bam­berg, Dave Ward, John Betts and Kevin Ri­ley with assistant coach Chip Bruce.

And now all 20 of them are Corridor of Famers as probably the greatest groups ever assembled in WHS athletic historical past.

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