WSA 97 BOYS RED CAPTURE OKLAHOMA PREMIERE LEAGUE CROWN IN FINAL MATCH OF THE SEASON! WSA 97 Boys Red got a road win to secure a 5-point cushion for the U15 Boys OPL Title! Read more...
WSA 97 BOYS RED OPL CHAMPIONS 2011-12
Defeat TSC 2-1 in League Finale For Title
The WSA 97 Boys Red team headed into their league finale on Monday, November 7th, knowing a win would secure their league championship bid in the Oklahoma Premiere League. They would face the defending Oklahoma State Champions, TSC 97, a team which had ousted WSA from the state semifinals a few months earlier.
"We’d been close. We’d tied them before. But never quite gotten over the hump," reported assistant coach Richard Shaughnessy. The night was apparently made for WSA. On the road, in classic fashion, the team closed out the season on two top class goals, to defeat TSC 2-1 and capture the league crown with 7 wins and 1 loss. WSA 97 Red finished with 21 points, and TSC 97 finished with 16 points in the standings (TSC had one match to play, but even with a win could not catch WSA). The 97 Reds amassed 22 goals for and only 6 against on the season, giving away less than one goal per game, partly due to good defending and some timely goalkeeping!
While some individual performances highlighted the season, Coach Wes Branstetter referenced the teams "perseverance and heart" as keys to their success. "We had numerous injuries this season and every instance someone has continued to step up and fill the void." The "next man" mentality permeates many of the WSA "blue collar" squads, and it was no different this season for the 97 Reds. "The boys take responsibility individually and as a team holding each other accountable for their efforts each game," coach Wes continued. "They have learned that there is no subsitute for having heart on the field, and when you "will" your team on the pitch anything is possible."
While many would point to the turning point of the seaon as the winning goal in the league finale, the coaches think it might have been earlier in the season, in the first match vs TSC. A bit of "pre-game banter" between the teams motivated the 97 Reds and the coaches believe the team played one of their top matches that day in spite of the 3-1 setback. It was a pivotal moment as coach Wes pointed out, "The boys believed from that day forward that when they commited they could play with anyone".
As the season progressed that one blemish was the only setback in league play for the WSA squad. They turned in 3 consecutive shutout victories following the loss to TSC, then went on a 3-game run in their last stretch, in which they outscored their OPL opponents 11-3. It became apparent that the 97 Reds might be able to complement their clubmates efforts from the 97 Blues who had claimed the local GCSA "A" League Championship. "What a record setter that is for the club," claimed Branstetter, referencing the 97 boys program capturing two championships in the same season! The 97 Boys program which was developed and overseen by Coach Branstetter and Coach Adam Gardner from the academy ranks is proud of the ascension of the program which includes two league titles this season and Coach Oscar Gomez’s white team’s "auscipious" season debut. WSA boasts 3 "97" programs, all on an apparent journey "upward". The "reds", the "blues", and the "whites" have all had great seasons.
The 97 Reds have journeyed up the "step ladder" of the State and Region soccer stepping stones, having begun in the local "B" division, before winning promotion to the "A" then to the OPL, then last season qualifying for the Region League West Division (unable to attend due to quirk in scheduling). The championship in the Oklahoma Premiere League is certainly a hallmark moment in a long list of trophies and accolades earned by the 97 Reds, but not the resting destination. "The most important goal is fighting off complacency," reports Coach Branstetter.
The team recently went 2 wins and a loss at the Sam Shannon College Showcase, their only loss a 2-neil setback to their nemis TSC 97 in that event. They will return to action at the Germantown Invitational Showcase, Dec 3-4th, before taking a holiday. There are plenty of team goals in front of them and certainly some aspirations for May’s State Tournament. While there are other accolades and milestones to go after, Coach Branstetter sums up the focus, "Truly our goal is to improve each day we step on the pitch, become consistent hard workers, great teammates, and students of the game." A lofty ambition, but what it means to dawn the WSA Shield over your chest.
Well done on a great season to the 97 Reds! Congrats on the trophy and for representing the club, our community and your families with class and dignity.
WSA 97 Red shown here collecting hardware last season in Kansas City!