By Vihaan Majumdar
What looked to be a season of domination ended in disappointment for the boys varsity soccer team, losing to eventual champions Niagara Wheatfield 1-0 in the section semifinal, closing the curtains on the varsity careers of 12 seniors (13 if including injured player-turned-coach Nick Schopp). With the season over, let’s take a look at all the highs and lows of a tough season:
Flames come out flying:
The team came out looking like men among boys, winning the first 6 games of the season by a combined score of 31-0, 11 of the goals coming from junior sensation Khairallah Musaid. A backline of Camden Venator, Colin Lane, and Parth Suharu was impenetrable, and goalkeeper Charlie Hutton oftentimes might as well have not been on the field because he rarely touched the ball. Luca and Nico Buscaglia dribbled through defenses like they weren’t there while Jay Jezioro and Musaid were scoring for fun (18 goals combined). Vihaan Majumdar, Tyler Mu, and Ronny Suazo landed their first ever varsity goals, while Anthony Bonnano had 3 games where he was 100% on pass completion. They looked unstoppable.
Williamsville South Play spoilers:
The hot streak was quickly put down by a combination of Sam Lamendola and Bruce Damstead, who utilized South’s only two shots of the game to good effect, scoring both, while East struck the post three times and only managed one conversion off of 20 shots, coming from Musaid.
The Amherst saga:
The Flames responded to the South loss by tossing Starpoint around 5-1 (including a hatrick by Nico Buscaglia), but then came two straight games against a renewed Amherst team fielding their best team in a long time. Back-to-back games proved to be too much, as the trip to Amherst resulted in a 3-0 (oh, and they missed the powderpuff). The response? A Saturday rematch at East went in the favor of revenge as a Nico Buscaglia header was enough for the Flames to edge out a 1-0 victory the day of the homecoming dance. The game also saw a massive reshuffle of formation: Jay Jezioro made the center-back position his own, Alec Mauro found a starting role and took full advantage of his opportunity, while Suharu and Venator took well to playing as holding midfielders. Asher Yonaty moved to his preferred CAM position, while Luca found his footing as a striker.
The Flames went on to win 3 out of their next 4, the lone loss being to cross-town rivals Williamsville North 1-0. The glaring issue was the three wins were only by a combined margin of 5-0, although one of them came in against Williamsville South, coming off a penalty by Luca Buscaglia. However, South still went on to win the league title.
The boys managed to end the regular season on a high, finishing out the last two games with convincing wins (7-0 and 4-0 against Iroquois and Nichols, respectively), and opened the playoffs with an 8-1 demolishing over Kenmore East, including a first career varsity goal for Parth Suharu. The boys went into the semifinal riding high on momentum.
Wheatfield spoils the party:
The season ended in an agonizing loss to Niagara Wheatfield, as they took revenge for the 4-0 destruction that East handed them in the second game of the season. A missed penalty kick by Luca Buscaglia proved to be the crucial moment of the game, as the game ended 1-0 with no other real attacking opportunities for the flames, despite the best efforts of Hutton and the defense.
The loss was shocking, but there were some individual positives. Kharallah Musaid finished the league as the top goalscorer with 20 goals and Charlie Hutton fell one short of the shutout record with 12. Look to see senior captains Luca Buscaglia and Jay Jezioro on the collegiate stage in the near future, and for the underclassmen, 14 players return for next year.