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The Paw Print

The Paw Print

Boys soccer continues a fantastic run

Jennifer Godwin-Minto

The Poly boys varsity soccer team clinched their fifth consecutive Prep League title with a dominating 10-1 win against Providence on Poly’s senior night. Finishing league with an impressive 6-1-2 record and an overall record of 14-4-2, the Panthers’ season has been nothing short of a success.

With a senior-filled roster, a strong team bond, and a burning desire for redemption after last year’s tough loss in the first round of CIF, the team hoped to earn the second boys soccer CIF championship in Polytechnic history.

Senior centerback Junaid Bhatti commented, “We had many heartbreaking season-enders in the playoffs, and it felt great to make a run for a ring.”

Senior midfielder Parker Gooden also stated, “The motivation from last year’s heartbreaking loss in the playoffs is what set us apart from other teams in our league.”

This year’s team boasts six seniors, forming a robust leadership core that has been instrumental in guiding the squad. Their experience and maturity have helped create a strongly bonded and cohesive group. Their unity allows them to play with great chemistry on the field, a crucial element in the success of any soccer team.

Assistant coach Laura Marion commented, “This team is heavy on seniors, and much of our success is because of their leadership and talents. We also have a large group of freshmen, so the guidance from the seniors has ensured that no matter who is on the field, we are eleven strong.”

The team attributes much of its success to the hard work of head coach Daniel Sheridan and Marion, who have played a pivotal role in shaping the team’s strategy. This season, they created a culture where victory is not just celebrated but expected. As the team entered the playoffs after winning the league for the fifth consecutive year, hopes were high.

“We believe that we can beat any team we come up against. Though we’ve experienced some injuries to our starting guys, we have faith that no matter who we put on the field, we can still play Poly soccer,” said Marion.

In the first round of playoffs, Poly, led by senior forward Jesse Benitez, defeated Fillmore High School on Wednesday, Feb. 7 in a close match with a final score of 2-1. Benitez scored the go-ahead goal, a header on a chaotic play that advanced Poly into the second round. In the second round on Friday, Feb. 9 against Grand Terrace High School, Poly jumped out to a 1-0 lead at the half and never looked back. They finished with a 2-0 win.

Benitez, a four-year member of the team, said, “After four years of playing with this group of guys, this is one of the most memorable seasons for us.”

In the third round, Poly played Foothill Tech on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at Foothill Tech High School. At halftime, the Panthers were down 1-0. Three minutes into the second half, the Dragons scored again, making it 2-0, but Poly responded five minutes later with a goal of their own. Freshman Nicolas Ashjian dribbled down the right sideline and passed it on to freshman Joe Benitez, who then passed it down the middle to freshman Momo Tonthat, who headed the ball into the back of the net. Unfortunately, the Panthers ran out of time and ended their hard-fought CIF run with a 2-1 loss in the quarterfinals match.

The Poly boys soccer team demonstrated skill, determination and resilience throughout their season. Although playoffs did not end how they might have hoped, their impressive league success and playoff victories displayed their unwavering dedication to excellence. 

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