On Sunday November 18, the 7th seeded Lexington Christian Academy Lions, took the field at Worcester Academy in Worcester, MA defeating the #1 seed, the Hoosac Owls, to take the title of New England Prep School Athletic Conference Class D Champions.
“This is going to be quite a story when we win on Sunday.”
– Ben Mollenhauer
Senior captain Ben Mollenhauer said on Friday, “This is going to be quite a story when we win on Sunday.” And he was right! This was more than your typical semifinal and final game series. The NEPSAC semifinal game was moved to Saturday instead of Friday due to inclement weather. The Lions beat Brimmer & May 2-0 in the semifinals on Saturday night at 7pm, and moved onto the finals for a 9:00am game Sunday morning; 2 games in 12 hours.
The Lions came out with high energy, and took the lead in the first half with a goal by captain Julius Swaim, assisted by Ben Mollenhauer. Less than two minutes later, the Owls scored a goal to tie the game 1-1. LCA Athletic Director, Scott Stevens said, “The boys did not allow that goal to discourage or deflate them. They responded well.” LCA goalkeeper Noah Levitz made some key saves to keep the game tied in the first half.
The scheduling caught up to them, and it was clear the Lions were tired in the second half. The team played hard, but their heart and determination is what shone in the second half. Play after play, this team never gave up. The game remained tied with two minutes to go in regulation time.
The Lions were able to push forward and received a corner kick. Julius Swaim played a terrific ball to the back post, to Ben Mollenhauer, who headed the ball home for the victory. Phillip Elliott, Trey Baskett, Joey Hickey, and Zack Tucci are among the players who brought some much needed energy off the bench to help carry the team to their triumph.
“All season, on and off the field, these boys have showed incredible class and maturity.” – Scott Stevens.
“All season, on and off the field, these boys have showed incredible class and maturity,” said Scott Stevens. At the end of the game, amidst the celebration of hundreds of fans, you could find three LCA players across the field consoling the goalie of the opposing team. That is true sportsmanship.
The fans were electric. The sidelines were packed with LCA students, alumni, friends and family all cheering on the Lions. The Lions definitely had the home field advantage! The fans were engaged with the team, and the team was engaged with the fans. It was a sight to see!
Returning coaches Drago Kazakov and Nelio Franco led the team to their victory. Last year the Lions were runners up in the NEPSAC finals, led by a team of 10 seniors, many of which attended the games this weekend and saw The Lions take the win. The 2018 NEPSAC Championship team consists of 6 seniors, 5 juniors, 2 sophomores, and 6 freshmen (3 of which started).
After the game ended, and the celebration subsided, we got this encouraging message from a referee at the championship game –
“Good evening. My name is Jeff and I was the Assistant Referee in the boys soccer final today at Worcester Academy. I just want to commend these young men on a great match but also in the class and character they showed at the end of the match while consoling the losing teams goalkeeper and some of their players. I have never seen such a demonstration of strong moral character and just total empathy in a sports match. Whomever those young men are deserve to know that we (the referees) were watching. I did not want to make this comment public simply because these young men deserve the attention. Please pass along to them that their actions did not go unnoticed. Well done to your team and to your school. This is the example we need in American soccer and I commend those young men.”
Well done, boys. Well done.