Boys varsity soccer finishes season strong and looks toward future

Jackson Buss

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Sophomore Nick Avillo slides in for a tackle and regains possession for the Wildcats.

The Walter Johnson boys varsity soccer team ended the season strongly with three straight wins and look ahead to their bright future. After a solid performance in an unconventional season, the Wildcats look to build on this and make a run for state next year.
The Wildcats started off the season playing a really strong team in the Montgomery Blair Blazers. The Wildcats held their own however and lost a tight 2-1 match. Next, they faced off against the Bethesda Chevy-Chase Barons. The Wildcats dominated this game. They held possession for a large majority of the game, and had a significantly larger amount of shots on goal. Despite creating chance after chance, the Wildcats were unable to put one in. To make matters worse, with just 10 minutes left to play, a BCC free kick took a squirly bounce and rolled into the net. The Barons escaped with a narrow 1-0 victory as they left the WJ side devastated knowing they should have won that game.
Despite a rough start, the Wildcats rebounded strongly pulling off three straight victories to close out the season. They won back-to-back blowouts with a 3-0 victory against Poolesville with the sophomores leading the way. Sophomores Leonardo MacDonald, Sean Blakeslee, and Thomas Poliseno all scored. That victory was followed by another convincing win against Quince Orchard where the Wildcats won 4-0. Junior Fernando Ibarra scored two goals and senior captain Will Le scored from the penalty spot and Dan Avillo also put one in. The Wildcats finished the season at home against Churchill with sophomore Dan Avillo scoring just before the half. The Wildcats then controlled possession the rest of the game and Churchill had nothing to show for them as they were never really in the game. The final score did not represent the domination that occurred on the field.
Despite the fact that some very strong seniors will be graduating, the future is bright for the Wildcats. Currently, there are 10 underclassmen on the roster, three of whom played varsity as a freshman. Next year’s team will be led by some very strong seniors including Katala Lupunga-Phillips who won MVP of the varsity team as a freshman, as well as Fernando Ibarra, Keito Ishibashi, Connor Mucchetti, Jose Gutierrez and Leo Dobosz who have all been on varsity since their sophomore year. This means next year’s team will include eight players with at least two years of varsity experience under their belt. In addition, there are 11 more who have played multiple varsity games. The wildcats also have many rising juniors who played varsity this year and were also pulled up for playoffs their sophomore year. Next year’s Wildcats will be one of the most experienced teams in the county and are primed for a deep playoff run.
This year’s seniors went out on a good note winning their final three games in their high school career and set a good example for the underclassmen that will be following in their footsteps, hoping to bring the state title back to WJ.