EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Sports

November 4, 2012

"We expected it, we earned it"

Windham wins state championship in just third varsity season

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.

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