Shipley Gators ground Phoenix to win 3rd consecutive FSL boys’ soccer crown

It’s only natural that opportunities will be missed during a match. The real test then becomes how you react to that missed opportunity.

In Tuesday afternoon’s Friends Schools League boys’ soccer championship game, Shipley School junior Austin Wylie was given that golden opportunity midway through the first half when he was taken down in the box and awarded a penalty shot.

With the tension mounting, Friends’ Central keeper Nolan McGrann came up with the huge save to keep the game scoreless. With a lot of soccer remaining, Wylie was hoping to gain a chance for redemption.

In the second half Wylie had two more opportunities and the junior striker did not miss as he tallied a pair of second half goals to lead his team to a hard-fought 2-0 win over rival Friends’ Central which gave Shipley its third consecutive crown and eighth since 2005.

Friends’ Central was making their first appearance in the FSL finals since falling to George School in 2012

“When I missed the PK I knew I missed an opportunity,” Wylie said after the game. “I also knew you could not undo the past and there was no reason to worry about. I hoped another opportunity would come and when it did I was glad I was able to convert and help the team. It means a lot.”

Wylie put his team in front 1-0 after his teammate Josh Liss delivered a beautiful set piece with a high arcing shot from 45-yards out.  The ball found the heads of Tate Gallagher and Ronan Higgins who found Wylie in open space in the box. After settling the ball, Wylie slid his shot past McGrann.

“I saw Tate and Ronan jump up and deflect the ball into the open space,” said Wylie. “Tate and Ronan did all the work and I just happened to be in the right place.”

Ten minutes later Wylie iced the game when he converted a prefect feed from Matt Blumenthal.

Senior co-captain Joe Bradley said, “I always trust Austin. I was a little nervous when he missed the PK because I knew Austin runs on confidence and when he did not convert the PK I wanted to be the first person to tell him not to get his head down because other opportunities would come. I glad it did and it was great to see him score two goals.”

The Friends Schools League crown was the ideal ending to a season that has featured adversity coming in different types that eventually forced a sit down to help the Gators find their way.

“We actually had a sit down meeting a couple of weeks ago to discuss some things that has never happened to us prior to this season,” said coach Thom Scahuerman. “During that meeting I stressed the importance of a positive attitude. That has been our key to success in previous years. I explained that everyone had a job to do. The bench had its job, the players had their job and if everyone did their job we would be okay.”

“This is definitely our best FSL title in my three years of playing at Shipley,” Bradley said. “It means a lot because of everything we overcame as a team. I believe we really hit our stride at the right time.”

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