By Kodi Udochukwu ’23
Under the tutelage of Mr. O’Donnell, Ms. Montgomery and Reed Taws ‘20, the JV soccer team rode shockwaves this fall, finishing as the only undefeated team in the JV Prep League and the only undefeated sports team in Woodberry this fall.
Their first game was a sign of things to come as the young Tigers smashed John Paul the Great 6-0. From the start, the JV soccer team played a brand of exciting, beautiful soccer. They followed this victory with a drumming of St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes’ School. With the support of the fantastic home crowd, the game finished 5-1.
A tense, tight win over bitter rivals, Episcopal High School, highlighted the team’s grit and resilient mentality. The young Tigers, many of whom were 3rd formers, still came out with a win against the intimidating giants of Episcopal, who were mostly sophomores and juniors. Despite some flaring tempers, the Young Tigers kept calm and finished the job, beating their rivals 1-0.
Nick Reynolds ‘22, one of the team’s three captains, used the game’s emotional energy as motivation to win the match. Mr. O’Donnell had a similar opinion.
“We didn’t let them intimidate us,” he said. He was right.
The Tigers returned to their offensive firepower the following game, defeating Benedictine 4-0. In a similar fashion, the JV soccer team pounded STAB with a relentless 7-1 victory. The team oozed excitement, drive, and quality as they stormed to six wins on the spin, scoring goals for fun while keeping the door shut at the back. The Young Tigers ran through teams with a mix of hard work and quality. A 3-0 home victory against rivals St. Chris epitomized this.
Next up was an intense fixture against Norfolk Academy, who was also undefeated at the time. The wind and the field’s weird bounce made the road match-up the toughest game yet. Woodberry still managed a goal and looked set to continue their winning streak until they unluckily conceded a penalty, which Norfolk tucked away.
The Young Tigers returned to winning ways against Trinity Episcopal School, cruising to a 3-0 victory. The JV soccer team had two more games to play to accomplish the unprecedented undefeated season.
The penultimate game came against rivals St. Chris, who the Young Tigers had recently dispatched 3-0 at home. This time the opposition proved to be more stubborn than before, with the boisterous crowd of St. Chris packing the touchlines in support of their Saints. Yet the Tigers were able to score a goal and looked to be headed for their ninth win of the season until St. Chris won a penalty and equalized. Again, the young Tigers deserved a win but unfortunately came out with a tie. They were, however, still unbeaten.
With a disappointing draw, the JV soccer team knew they had to bounce back with a win. They had thrashed STAB in the reverse fixture but their coaches weren’t going to let them take the other Saints for granted. The visitors stunned the young Tigers by taking the lead early in the game. In the space of ten minutes, the young Tigers equalized and eventually took the lead, adding another goal before the second half. In the second half, the JV soccer team created chance after chance after chance. They weren’t able to extend their lead through and were punished when STAB scored two quick-fire goals to equalize, making it 3-3. Chasing a winner, the game grew tense. The relentless JV Tigers kept knocking on the door for a goal. With two minutes to go, a searching through ball from Kodi Udochukwu’23 met the rapid winger Robbie Handelsman ‘23 who scored the winning goal. The JV soccer ended the season undefeated.
The JV soccer team ended the season scoring a total of 35 goals and conceding just seven goals, outclassing most every team they faced. From playing Episcopal’s juniors who were double their size to a windy night at Norfolk Academy, to facing a boisterous St. Chris crowd, the JV soccer team defied the odds and ended the season unscathed.
They were invincible.