EXETER, N.H. — Windham’s boys soccer program earned its first-ever victory on Sept. 7, 2010. Just shy of 26 months later, it is the Division 2 state champion.
Chris Ulbrich netted a hat trick in victory No. 1 over Milford, then scored one of the shootout goals that contributed to a 3-2 victory over top-seeded Hollis-Brookline here at Bill Ball Stadium.
”This season was crazy,” said Ulbrich, a senior striker. “First varsity (season) was sophomore year so we went under .500 (at 6-9-2). Junior year (was a 10-8 record). And this year (finishing 16-3), we actually expected something big. Coming to the finals wasn’t a surprise. We expected it. I’m not even surprised right now. We earned it.”
Senior goalie Andrew Pesci, who is expected to graduate early from Windham and play college soccer at Southern New Hampshire University, made seven saves. He then made a huge stop during the shootout.
”We’ve played eight, nine years together (including youth leagues) and this town has been behind us every step of the way,” Pesci said. “They’ve watched us grow. This program has developed and it will keep developing. But we’ve worked our butts off this whole season battling through injuries after injuries after injuries just making sure we get there.”
The best-of-five shootout, which second-seeeded Windham won 4-2, was required after two scoreless 20-minute overtimes.
Overtime was needed after Hollis-Brookline scored a penalty kick with 2:30 remaining in the contest.
Pesci, who played limited time last year because he suffered a posterior cruciate ligament tear five games into the 2011 season, knew he needed to keep his cool.
”My coaches pretty much told me, ‘Look, it’s PKs. You’re a goalkeeper. You’re not meant to save (them all). ... Just get out there and stop one of them,’” Pesci said.
That’s just what Pesci did.
Hollis-Brookline’s Sam VanNoy missed the net on his team’s third chance and Pesci saved Jake Laurent’s blast on Hollis-Brookline’s fourth kick.
”He’s been tremendous,” Windham coach Mike Hachey said about Pesci. “He’s a talent I’ve seen since watching him as a kid in junior high. He has extreme athleticism, but he also has drive. Where he is at is because of what he’s done for himself. He expects himself to be perfect. He will not stop until he is perfect and he keeps going.”
Sub clinches title
With the Jaguars leading the shootout 3-2, they sent junior backup James Baiguy in to shoot the fifth penalty kick.
He finished off Hollis-Brookline, pounding one past keeper Linds Cadwell.
”I was really nervous and I was just so happy I did it,” said Baiguy, who moved to New Hampshire from Costa Rica approximately five years ago.
Actually, this was the first time Baiguy had taken a penalty kick in a game since playing soccer in Costa Rica.
”I did it for all the seniors,” he said.
Baiguy was not originally scheduled to take Windham’s fifth shot.
David Carbonello was penciled in to do it but he left the contest with an ankle injury.
Hachey looked right at Baiguy, telling the junior he needed someone to take that fifth kick.
“He gave me a look and I said, ‘Do you really want it?,’“ Hachey recalled. “And he said ‘Yes.’ And that’s what you want. You want confidence. You want a guy who’s going to say, ‘Yeah, I’ll do it.’ PKs are confidence. And technically, we know he has a fantastic shot.”
Whitehead and Joe Forti netted the other Windham goals during the shootout.
Odds and ends
Windham goalie Andrew Pesci had a spectacular season, posting 11 shutouts, including a 17-save performance in a 3-0 victory over Souhegan on Aug. 28. ... Hollis-Brookline won the regular season matchup between these two schools 1-0 on Sept. 19 at Hollis-Brookline. In that game, Pesci had to make only two saves. ... Windham’s only three losses this year came to Trinity (2-0), Hollis-Brookline (1-0) and Lebanon (1-0). .... The Jaguars outscored their 19 opponents 57-11 this fall. ... David Carbonello and Joe Forti scored Windham’s two regulation goals. Carbonello’s goal was off a corner kick and assisted by Forti. ... The Jaguars have made great strides in three seasons. They lost in the Division 2 quarterfinals to none other than Hollis-Brookline in 2011.
Windham 3, Hollis-Brookline 2
Division 2 state final
at Bill Ball Stadium, Exeter
Goals: W — David Carbonello, Joe Forti; H-B — Jake Laurent, Andrew Cappetta
Assists: W — Forti, Chris Ulbrich; H-B — Cole Owens, Cappetta
Saves: W — Andrew Pesci 7; H-B — Linds Cadwell 3
Hollis-Brookline (14-2-3): 1 1 0 — 2
Windham (16-3): 1 1 1 — 3