The pain of maximum effort turned to maximum joy when the final whistle blew. They had accomplished what few thought could be done, and showed in 80 minutes what is possible from one of the best tech programs in the state.
The Abbott Tech boys soccer team scored one of the upsets of the season by taking down defending SWC champion Weston 3-1. With virtually every player going down with cramp in the second half while chasing around the Trojans’ possession game, the Wolverines somehow held on to score their 12th win of the season.
“We played our hearts out, that’s what we came to do,” said Abbott Tech senior Danny Vasquez, who scored all three goals in the win. “It means a lot going into the (CTC tournament) next week; I was really excited for this. We wanted to score early and catch them by surprise.”
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“They stepped it up to a level of a Weston-style of team,” Abbott Tech first-year coach Adrian Solis. “A lot of schools look at the tech league and kind of play us as a joke, and we were able to step up.”
Challenging SWC schools isn’t new for the program, which changed its schedule a few years ago to include several local squads. But wins against them were rare before Wednesday’s triumph; just 10 days ago the Wolverines gave up six goals in the first half against New Fairfield in an 8-1 loss.
“These games are like the learning games, when we learn how to come together and work on our plays,” said senior Cristian Redrovan. “Those are the matches we want to learn those things.”
The win was the final stamp on what has been a remarkable turnaround for the team. Abbott Tech went 3-11-2 a year ago — a rare off season for a team used to winning 10 games — and is 12-3 after the win over Weston. Twelve seniors make up the group, most of who got varsity experience last year.
“A lot of us have played together for many years,” Vasquez said. “It’s easy for us to play together; we have a lot of chemistry on and off the field.”
The lynchpin is Vasquez, who could lead the line for virtually any team in the state. His hat trick against the Trojans brought his goal total an astounding 35 this fall. Solis said Vasquez would like to play at the next level.
The Wolverines had fallen the last two years to Weston by a combined 14-0 score, but the visitors were stunned inside 20 minutes. Vasquez displayed his pace and skill on several occasions and before Weston could blink was in a hole.
“He’s been where our offense funnels through,” Solis said. “He’s basically the key to us doing well offensively. If he has a great game, we have a great offensive game and if he has a poor game we have a poor game offensively.”
The Trojans mixed in starters throughout the contest, particularly in the second half. Abbott Tech was penned in for long stretches but didn’t falter. In addition to Vasquez, Matias Guaricela has been a key forward; Juan Cordero is a important force in midfield while Jake Rodriguez and Tyler Waterman have led the defense.
“We have great leadership,” Solis said. “We have excellent forwards who have stepped up. We played amazing defensively today; I just brought in a little more focus on working harder than last year.”
Winning the CTC is step one; the quarterfinals for that tournament begin Monday. The Wolverines haven’t won the title in more than a decade; the school’s best period came from 2009-12 when deep runs in the Class M tournament showed tech schools can hang.
And as Wednesday showed, anything is possible.
“It would be beautiful,” Redrovan said of lifting the CTC crown. “I’m looking forward to it.”