Whether we like it or not, the summer is coming to an end. With the end of summer comes another school year, and in the next few weeks student athletes will begin prepping for the fall sports season.
While some are counting down the days left before they return to their respective fields of play, some standouts from St. Elizabeth’s boys soccer team have gotten a head start. Several Vikings represented Delaware in the Region I Championships with U16 KSC Roma; while current St. E’s head coach Ed Gibbons helped lead the U14 Boys Delaware Rush team to the Region 1 Championships.
Vikings Defender Chris Carver, Midfielders Alex Hantman and Sebastian Quiroga, along with Goalkeeper Justin Bajek won their second straight state championship together representing Delaware with the U16 KSC Roma team. The squad came up short in the Region 1 Championships going 0-1-2 overall in the tournament.
The team earned draws against New York and Connecticut but fell to Eastern Pennsylvania, failing to advance. All four will be juniors in the fall, accepting a bigger role on the Vikings team headed by Gibbons. He believes the experience playing against such a high level of competition will only help the team in the fall as they hope to return to the Division II State Championship after falling last year to Indian River.
“It was a great opportunity for the boys,” Gibbons said. “They’ll have a high level soccer experience to bring back to the program, they’re juniors but their experience and leadership (will be) vital for us to get back to the state championship game.”
Gibbons had a busy offseason of his own, leading the U14 Boys Delaware Rush to the Region 1 Championships, also in Rhode Island.
In group play, the Rush finished 2-0-1 with wins over New York East and Virginia, and tying Pennsylvania West. Coming into the tournament New York East was ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation, while Virginia was ranked No. 5.
The Rush advanced to the semi-final defeating the defending Regional Champion and No. 4 ranked team in the nation Connecticut 1-0 in overtime. Unfortunately, the Rush’s ride ended after a 2-0 loss to Virginia Arlington in the Regional Final.
“It was a privilege to work with this group of young men throughout the year,” Gibbons said after the tournament’s conclusion. “Each individual player improved greatly between the EDP fall and EDP spring seasons.”
Despite coming a game short of the title, Gibbons is thankful for the ride he had with the Rush, and looks forward to many more big moments on the pitch.
“The team started to peek at the right time winning the Delaware State Cup and moving on to the Region I Championships,” Gibbons said. “It was a thrilling ride and we’ll share that memory for years to come.”
In just under a month, Gibbons, Carver, Hantman, Quiroga, and Bajek will be back on the field representing the Vikings when they open their season at Glasgow on Friday, September 5.