For the first time in 21 years, the boys varsity soccer team finished first in Ocean League. On Friday, Feb. 1, the team had one of its biggest games of the season, beating its longtime rival Samo 2-1 in overtime. The team officially clinched its first place position in the Feb. 5 win against Inglewood, winning 2-0.
The game against Samo determined if Beverly would have a chance of winning the championship. According to co-captain Elijah Lichtenberg, the referee had to calm players because the game was extremely physical. Yellow cards were given to midfielder Phin Bauer, defender Golan Khorshidi, forward Gefen Laredo and midfielder Miguel Ramirez.
Lichtenberg scored both of the goals against Samo, one at the 38 minute mark and one with 8:05 remaining in overtime.
Laredo is pleased with the performance of both the players and head coach Steve Rappaport.
“Our coach is a great coach. He instills confidence within us and gets us fired up from a week before the game,” Laredo said. “There is nothing that I would have done differently. We played as a team and we played as best we could.”
Midfielder Ignacio “Nacho” Gonzalez and Laredo led the team with goals against Inglewood.
Both captains, Lichtenberg and Josh Horowitz, were extremely pleased by the result.
“I am so happy I was able to go out of my senior year as a league champ,” Lichtenberg said.
The team faced adversity this season that previous teams had not. The passing of varsity coach Darren Davies earlier this season led the team down a road of sadness. In honor of Davies, the squad made a promise to win league, a feat that ran unaccomplished for 21 years.
“It feels that more special. We made a promise and we kept that promise which is the most amazing feeling ever,” Lichtenberg explained.
The win against Inglewood resulted in a celebratory dumping of Gatorade on Rappaport. But even after the brief celebration, the hard work is not over. According to Lichtenberg, there is much more to accomplish.
“The challenge is most definitely not over. We have CIF coming and it’s a tournament that has never been won by Beverly and we’re looking to go far in it,” Lichtenberg said. “Challenges during the playoffs will include a lot of intense games and hard battling as it is single elimination in CIF. A proper warm-up, focus and the right mindset is how I plan on bringing my ‘A-game.’”
Still, this accomplishment is something that will remain treasured in the minds of the team.
“One of the highlights of my high school coaching career,” Rappaport said. “It was the most stressful start to a season in my life and I couldn’t be prouder of how such a great group of young men turned terrible adversity into something special.”
The team played an away game against Culver on Feb. 7 but results were not available in time for press. The first playoff game will be at home at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15.